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City Planning Commission Green Lights First Holiday Inn Hotel in Downtown Pittsburgh

12 Jun 2014, 12:59 am







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

In a 6-0 vote, the City Planning commission has approved the construction of the proposed eight-story, 99-key Holiday Inn hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Forza Group of Bridgeville is investing $9 million in the project, which would replace a two-story structure at 435 Fort Pitt Blvd. near the Fort Pitt Commons building.

Upon completion by next summer, the new hotel development will be the first Holiday Inn property in the city’s downtown area. The closest is a Holiday Inn Express and Suites on South 10th Street, on the South Side (pictured).

The commission’s approval, however, came amid objections from nearby residents and property owners concerned that the project would negatively impact the neighborhood and block their views of the Monongahela River.

The construction of the new boutique hotel has been in the planning stages since 2009. The Forza Group’s initial proposal called for a 12-story structure, the newspaper reports.

The company’s other hotel development projects in the city include a 110-room Hampton Inn on West Carson Street and a 123-room Home2 by Hilton, which is slated to rise on the South Side, at the corner of East Carson and Sarah streets.

In regional hospitality news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that GreatStay Hospitality Partners LLC, led by Matthew Shollar, has acquired four Holiday Inn properties in Western Pennsylvania.

Totaling more than 600 rooms, the portfolio consists of a 158-room hotel in Indiana, a 121-room hotel in Clarion, a 156-room hotel in Beaver Falls, and a 178-room hotel in Uniontown.

GreatStay Hospitality announced it plans to renovate the properties, which it considers core assets for the communities in which they operate.

“They have historically been the go-to destination for events and celebrations. We’re excited to rejuvenate the hotels, greatly improve the service and quality of each location and transform them into once again being the hospitality headquarters for the region,” Shollar said in a press statement.

Photo credits: www.ihg.com



GMH Capital Partners Acquires High-End Apartment Community in Pittsburgh; Parkway Center in Green Tree Sells for $39M

4 Jun 2014, 2:07 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

GMH Capital Partners of Newtown Square near Philadelphia has acquired the Cork Factory Lofts in the Strip District, one of Pittsburgh’s premier apartment communities.

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Dan McCaffrey Interests of Chicago and Mt. Lebanon businessman Charles Hammel of Pitt-Ohio Express and partners sold the property for an undisclosed amount. The complex consists of the original 297-unit Cork Factory apartment building, which resulted from the conversion of the former Armstrong Cork Factory, the newly constructed 96-unit Loft 24, which was completed at the end of 2012, and a 427-space garage and retail building.   

Both residential buildings are almost completely occupied and attract “tenants of choice” who have the financial means to buy a house but prefer to live in a Class A apartment, according to Gary Holloway Jr., president of GMH Capital Partners. Plans now call for a series of property upgrades, including a larger fitness center and an outdoor kitchen area with grill.

Rents start at around $1,600 for the Cork Factory building, which opened in 2006, and at $1,400 for the Lot 24 units.

The company’s other projects in the Pittsburgh area include a 376-unit apartment community in Southpointe Town Center in Washington County. Built on 8.1 acres of land, the four-story building currently under construction is scheduled for completion in 2015.

In other news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that a joint venture between Coral Gables, Fla.-based Market Street Real Estate Partners and Chicago-based JDI Realty has acquired the seven office buildings at Parkway Center in Green Tree. In two separate transactions, the companies paid a total of $39.2 million for the properties, which offer a combined 620,000-square-foot of space.

The seller was an investment group led by the family trust of Bill Baierl. The new owners are planning to upgrade the buildings, which are currently 70 percent occupied.

Photo credits: www.thecorkfactory.com



Phipps Conservatory’s CSL Closer to Becoming City’s First Certified Net Zero Energy ‘Living Building’

28 May 2014, 4:05 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Emerging as one of the world’s greenest buildings, the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL) at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh, has recently garnered another landmark achievement, namely the Net Zero Energy Building Certification under the Living Building Challenge.

Administered by the International Living Future Institute since 2006, the program has stricter requirements than the LEED rating system, which focuses more on the idea of building green structures in a sustainable way. The Living Building Challenge, on the other hand, defines a closer measure of sustainability by also assessing the performance of the structure, which aims to achieve a net-zero impact on energy and water usage.

Regarded as the centerpiece of the $23 million Phase III of a multi-year expansion project underway at Phipps, CSL is an approximately 24,350-square-foot education, research and administration facility. Open since 2012, the project features a variety of green design features, including solar photovoltaics and solar hot water collectors, geothermal wells, a vertical axis wind turbine, passive cooling, heating and lighting methods, a lagoon, and a water distillation system, as well as rain gardens and constructed wetlands.

“The CSL was created to serve as a model for how we can work with nature to make our communities healthier, safer and more supportive of life,” says Phipps Executive Director Richard V. Piacentini. “With our Net Zero Energy Building Certification, we are excited to move closer to our goal of becoming a certified Living Building in 2014, showing the world just how inspiring and practical green can be.”  

Phipps’ CSL has already received two of the world’s highest green standards: the Four-Stars Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) certification for landscapes, which was awarded in November 2013; and LEED® Platinum, which was awarded in September 2013.

In April, Engineering News-Record also recognized CSL as the 2014 Global Best Project Award in the green project category.

Phipps Conservatory’s other green building projects include the first LEED-certified visitor center in a public garden, the first-ever LEED-certified production greenhouses and a tropical forest conservatory that was celebrated as the most energy efficient structure of its kind when it opened in 2006.

Photo credits: phipps.conservatory.org



Village Green Breaks Ground on Major Apartment Development in Downtown Pittsburgh

22 May 2014, 3:50 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Village Green Cos. of Detroit recently celebrated the groundbreaking of Morrow Park City Apartments, one of the largest new residential rental buildings in the city’s East End.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the $35 million project will bring 213 luxury apartments on a 1.31-acre plot at the corner of Baum Boulevard and Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield. Upon completion, the six-story building will also feature two levels of underground car and bike parking.

The Voelker family formerly owned the property, as well as an empty Goodwill store at the site, which is being demolished to make room for the new development.

Strip District-based Rycon Construction is in charge of building the approximately 209,000-square-foot complex, while HFF Inc. is arranging financing. The project is expected to be complete in about a year, with leasing starting in six months.  

Village Green is also planning to develop a 264-unit apartment building and a 563-space parking garage with 12,000 square feet of street level retail space at the SouthSide Works complex on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Nationwide, the company owns and/or manages more than 130 properties in 13 states, including Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis and St. Louis.

In related news, the Pittsburgh Business Times reports that Rycon Construction could become the builder and anchor office tenant for Oxford Development Co.’s Three Crossings project in the Strip District.

Earlier this month, Oxford Development unveiled its expanded plans for the project at the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s board meeting. Besides the originally proposed 299-unit apartment complex, revised plans also call for 250,000 square feet of office space, which brings the company’s total investment to $122 million.

Ranked as one of the region’s fastest growing companies, Rycon has begun to outgrow the 17,000-square-foot office space it owns in the Strip District. The company is currently in early negotiations with Oxford to build the Three Crossings project and lease about 25,000 square feet for its new office there.

“We just need more space,” John Sabatos, president of Rycon Construction Inc., told the newspaper. “We like the Strip District and we like to partner with Oxford.”

Photo credits: Village Green Cos.



Construction on Next Phase of Mosites Co.’s East Side Project Could Begin This Summer; Cenevo Signs Major Lease at RIDC Westmoreland

14 May 2014, 4:14 pm







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By Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

Local development company Mosites Co. is planning a summer construction start for Eastside III, a mixed-use, three-building complex in the city’s East Liberty neighborhood.

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the project would bring a total of 360 apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space on a four-acre site that extends from Highland to Penn Avenue. Plans also call for a public boulevard, rooftop gardens and energy-efficient appliances inside the residences.

The project is scheduled to receive a vote from the Pittsburgh Planning Commission in the next few weeks. If approved, construction on the first building, which would include 109 apartments, could begin in August and last for about a year.

The new development will be part of the new multi-modal East Liberty Transit Center, which is expected to serve nearly 1,000 daily bus trips. Upon completion, the project will also feature a parking structure for more than 500 vehicles.

The company’s other phases of the East Side master planned development brought major national tenants to the neighborhood, including Whole Foods and most recently, a Target store.

In other news, Cenveo Inc. has agreed to lease nearly 300,000 square feet of space at RIDC Westmoreland, the former 2.8 million-square-foot Sony plant in Mount Pleasant.  

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the transaction ranks as one of the region’s largest leases of commercial property this year.

Over the next three months, the Stamford, Conn.-based company will be relocating operations from a 450,000-square-foot facility near Scottdale in Fayette County to the new space in Westmoreland County.  

The Pittsburgh office of Colliers International represented Cenveo in the lease negotiations, the newspaper reports.

A leading global provider of print and related resources, Cenveo generated net sales of $1.8 billion last year. In August, the company announced the acquisition of its competitor National Envelope out of bankruptcy, which had been operating the Scottsdale facility.

Photo credits: mosites.net

 







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