State’s ‘Public-Private’ Transportation Deal Will Replace 53 Bridges In Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Allegheny County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A team of Pennsylvania-based subcontractors has three years to replace 558 structurally deficient Pennsylvania bridges, including 53 in Allegheny County.

PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch announced Friday that Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners would lead the department’s $899 million Rapid Bridge Replacement Project.

In the “public-private partnership,” the state retains ownership of the bridges, but the team is responsible for replacing the bridges and maintaining them for 25 years. Construction must begin in summer 2015.

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Monsour Hospital Properties Sold At Free-And-Clear Sale

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland ...

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Westmoreland County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Westmoreland County Land Bank purchased the former Monsour hospital property in Jeannette for $15,712 on Friday at a free-and-clear judicial sale.

Two other properties also owned by Monsour Medical Center, located just west in Hempfield on the opposite side of Route 30, also were sold Friday after a bidding war. A vacant office building, house and garage stand on those properties.

In August a judge ordered that the properties be put up for bid at a free-and-clear sale after no owners, creditors or lienholders showed up at a hearing to object.

Officials are awaiting approval of an application for about $1 million in state funds to demolish the buildings and remediate the property. The project is anticipated to cost about $2 million.

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$2.5 Million Grant To Aid Granite Building Hotel Project In Downtown Pittsburgh

DSC01828Gov. Tom Corbett delivered a $2.5 million state redevelopment assistance capital grant this morning to jump start Downtown’s latest hotel project — 104 rooms, three bars, and a brasserie-style restaurant at Wood Street and Sixth Avenue.

The $38 million independent boutique hotel will be housed in the Granite Building, a Romanesque-style structure built in 1889 and site of the former German National Bank. A building next door that once housed an Arby’s restaurant also will be part of the development.

The project is being developed by Holly Brubach, a former New York Times style editor who bought the Granite Building in 2006 with the intent of turning it into condominiums.

But that project was done in by the recession, prompting Ms. Brubach to change course.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/24/2-5M-grant-to-jump-start-Granite-Building-hotel-project-in-downtown-Pittsburgh/stories/201410240194

Shale Oil, Gas Finds Put Mon Valley On Path To Renaissance, Leaders Say

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Washington County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lue Ann Pawlick never envisioned companies connected with oil and gas beating a path to Alta Vista Business Park when it broke ground in tiny Fallowfield, Washington County, in 2001.

Today, three of the five companies in Alta Vista work in the industry. An energy company is set to start construction in the spring, and at least one more is close to signing a deal to locate there.

“We’re trying to keep it a mixed-use business park, but we have to recognize the oil and gas industry is the biggest game in town right now,” said Pawlick, executive director of the Middle Monongahela Industrial Development Association. “They are the ones driving demand.”

Ten years ago, Fort Worth-based Range Resources Corp. drilled the first Marcellus shale well in Washington County. Now the county — which dubs itself “Energy Capital of the East” — is home to about 1,000 wells, the most in Pennsylvania.

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EDMC Loses $664M; Executives Receive Six-Figure Bonuses

Education Management Corp. lost $664 million during a difficult year in which the operator of for-profit colleges struggled with declining enrollment and intense regulatory pressure.

Compensation for CEO Edward West and CFO Mick Beekhuizen plummeted, mostly on the lower value of stock options. But two executives hired last year to handle legal and compliance matters, issues that have dogged the company, received six-figure bonuses that were guaranteed by their contracts.

The year was a difficult one for EDMC, marked by ongoing lawsuits over its recruiting practices and pressure from lenders to collect on $1.5 billion in debt. The lawsuits could prompt potentially hefty financial penalties and add to the company’s financial troubles.

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Pittsburgh Study Shows City’s Vibrancy Has Returned

DSC01844Editor’s note:  We found this to be true during our visit there this summer. Pittsburgh has drastically changed over the last 10 years and the improvement is palpable.

Pittsburgh has transformed from an economically stagnant, transient city to “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” according to Doug Heuck, director of Pittsburgh Today.

A new report from the statistics-based project reflects this trend in increased home ownership, showing more residents are making the city their home.

The report shows the Pittsburgh region has the highest percentage of owner-occupied housing compared to 14 other metropolitan areas with comparable size and demographics, according to U.S. Census figures.

Factors like employment opportunities, education and housing have turned the city into “somewhere people want to come to and stay for a long time,” Mr. Heuck said.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/18/Study-shows-Pittsburgh-s-vibrancy-has-returned/stories/201410180017

PPG Profit Soars 64 Percent In Third Quarter

DSC01828Acquisitions remain a focus for PPG Industries Inc., which has $3 billion in cash that it can spend to increase performance, CEO Charles E. Bunch said Thursday when the company reported a 64 percent jump in third-quarter profit.

“We have a very active acquisition pipeline,” Bunch said. “Including the pending acquisition of Comex, we will likely spend at or above the top end of our previously announced range of $3 billion to $4 billion of cash in 2014 and 2015 on acquisitions and share repurchases.”

PPG’s latest deal is the purchase of Consorcio Comex S.A. de C.V., a leading paint company in Mexico, for $2.3 billion. The deal announced June 30 is expected to be completed by Dec. 31.

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Southwestern Energy Snaps Up Assets In Marcellus, Utica From Chesapeake

Chesapeake Energy continued its sell-off of gas drilling operations in the Marcellus and Utica shales Thursday with its biggest withdrawal from Appalachia.

Pennsylvania’s biggest shale gas producer agreed to sell 435 shale wells, 1,100 conventional wells and the rights to drill in more than 400,000 acres to Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. for $5.375 billion.

“I certainly think this is consistent with what we’ve seen from Chesapeake,” said Scott Hanold, an energy analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

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BNY Mellon Posts Third-Quarter Earnings Of $1.07 Billion

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. posted a third-quarter profit of $1.07 billion, or 93 cents per share, up from $962 million, or 82 cents per share, during the same quarter a year earlier.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/10/17/BNY-Mellon-posts-third-quarter-earnings-of-1-07-billion-Pittsburgh/stories/201410170178

Sears At Pittsburgh Mills Mall In Frazer Closing In January

Pittsburgh Mills

Pittsburgh Mills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  First Century III, now Pittsburgh Mills

The Sears store and Auto Center at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills mall will close in mid-January, a spokesman for Sears Holdings confirmed this morning.

The closing is part of the company’s strategy to reduce expenses and speed up the transformation of their business model, said company spokesman Howard Riefs.

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Corbett Announces $10M In Grants For Almono Project In Hazelwood

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in ...

Locator map with the Hazlwood neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before local developers can build a projected $1 billion in apartments, offices, retail shops and tech suites on the former LTV Steel Corp. site in Hazelwood, they need about $103 million in streets, utility lines and other infrastructure upgrades.

“There’s huge interest in this site, tremendous interest in this site, from developers not only in the region, but across the country,” said Don Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., which is managing the project. “Really, it’s all just interest until we can give them some certainty that the site will be ready for their buildings to open.”

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced $10 million in state grants to support development at the 178-acre Almono property along the Monongahela River.

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Fear Grows Along With Body Count In Week Of Violence On Pittsburgh Streets

Locator map with the Glen Hazel neighborhood i...

Locator map with the Glen Hazel neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gunmen targeted three victims in two apparently unrelated incidents Monday after a “pretty violent” week around the city that left some residents fearing for their lives.

A Pittsburgh sanitation worker was shot to death in his car Monday morning as he prepared to begin his route. Less than five hours later, two masked gunmen chased two victims on the streets of Glen Hazel in full view of neighbors, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition. A Chicago man was shot in the face and killed Saturday night in Beltzhoover. Arlington Heights was the scene of two daylight shootings Saturday and Sunday that wounded four.

Police are treating the incidents as unrelated, said Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

“Right now, there’s no reason to believe they’re connected,” Toler said. She described the past week as “pretty violent” and said the people involved in most of the shootings participated in “undesirable activities.”

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Four-Building SouthSide Works Project Unveiled

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since arriving in Pittsburgh three years ago, Raleigh, N.C.-based Highwoods Properties has acquired iconic PPG Place and EQT Plaza, Downtown. Now it’s moving across the river — to build, not to buy.

The real estate investment trust has reached an agreement with the Soffer Organization to erect four office buildings at the 34-acre SouthSide Works complex on the last four parcels left for development.

Highwoods plans to start with a 158,000-square-foot glass office building on the Monongahela riverfront next to Hofbrauhaus restaurant. The six-story building would feature 30,000-square-foot floor plates, terraces, an 8,000-square-foot restaurant, locker rooms, bike storage, a 72-space parking garage, and direct access to the waterfront park, trails and marina. Other buildings would follow based on demand — about 400,000 square feet of office and retail space in all.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/10/10/4-building-SouthSide-Works-project-unveiled/stories/201410100105

Pittsburgh-Area Colleges Produce Nearly $9 Billion Economic Impact

The 10 colleges and universities that make up the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education produced an economic impact of $8.99 billion and supported more than 70,000 jobs in the Pittsburgh area during fiscal year 2012-13, according to a report the council prepared in collaboration with Fourth Economy, a national economic development consulting firm.

Their collective economic impact represents approximately 32 percent of the city’s gross domestic product, the report said.

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Alco Proposing Two Office Towers, Parking Garage On North Shore

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three years ago, Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile was rebuffed when he offered the city’s Stadium Authority $10 million to buy land on North Shore Drive for a “signature office tower.”

Now Mr. Stabile is back — this time with plans for a new office development and parking garage on the land he owns behind PNC Park on the North Shore.

As conceived, the project would feature two, 11-story glass office towers erected on top of a new five-story, 1,227-space parking garage. In all, as much as 600,000 square feet of Class A office space would be built.

“We think it’s a game-changer,” said Kim Clackson, senior vice president of CBRE, which is marketing the “very dramatic” development that would rise above the ballpark and offer views of the Downtown skyline.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/business/2014/10/09/Alco-proposing-2-office-towers-parking-garage-on-North-Shore/stories/201410090197

Bon-Ton To Close Two Of Its Stores

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Butler County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Butler County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. is shuttering two of its stores, citing low sales, the company said in a news release.

The Bon-Ton store in the Clearview Mall in Butler, Pennsylvania and the Elder-Beerman store in the Raleigh Mall in Beckley, West Virginia will close before January 31, 2015, when their respective leases end. Approximately 38 employees at the Clearview Mall Bon-Ton and 39 at the Raleigh Mall Elder-Beerman will lose their jobs, the press release said.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_26679132/bon-ton-shuttering-two-stores

Columbus Provides Blueprint For How To Develop Mellon Arena Site

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  We love it when folks use existing successful business models for a blueprint. Why reinvent the wheel when a tweak will due :)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — About $1 billion in development around an arena primarily for hockey transformed a dreary section of downtown Columbus that used to be an industrial area and home to a run-down prison.

“People didn’t come downtown very often, and they certainly didn’t live here. Things are different now. This is a place to be,” said Sherri Lyle, 44, of suburban Powell, who works in Columbus’ 14-year-old Arena District.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are paying attention. The team is preparing to develop a 28-acre site where the Civic Arena stood, across Centre Avenue from the $321 million Consol Energy Center that opened in 2010.

“We’ve sat down and talked with them several times about what they have done relative to development,” said Penguins Chief Operating Officer Travis Williams, noting the team studied similar projects in Cincinnati, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose, Washington and Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

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With $30.7 Million In State Grants, U.S. Steel Promises To Stay In Pennsylvania

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pitt...

English: The U.S. Steel Tower, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, with the new corporate logo of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

United States Steel Corp. is committed to keeping its headquarters in Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Corbett said Friday as he announced the state was providing $30.7 million in grants for the Fortune 500 company to help rehabilitate some of its plants.

The company has not said publicly that it was looking to relocate from Pennsylvania, but there has been speculation about whether it would move to another site in the region when its lease at U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown, expires in 2017.

Corbett and administration officials acknowledged that they acted to secure a commitment from the company to stay in Pennsylvania based on fears — and not any knowledge — that it would exit the state.

“I think they were considering it,” said Corbett. The governor cited Chicago and Indiana, where U.S. Steel has its largest mill, as places where he thought it might relocate.

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Pittsburgh Region’s Political Leaders Again Consider Hotel Next To Convention Center

DSC01828It’s becoming the Lazarus of Downtown projects.

Left for dead a year ago, and several times before that, a plan to build a 500-room hotel attached to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center is being resurrected by top political leaders.

Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday that he and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have asked the Sports & Exhibition Authority to gauge the interest in and to study the feasibility of the proposed hotel, which would be built in a parking lot next to the convention center.

The full-service hotel, Mr. Peduto said, always was meant to be “the final part” of the convention center and to serve as its front entrance. “The building’s never been completed,” he said. “The hotel was supposed to be done.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/10/03/Political-leaders-revive-plan-for-hotel-attached-to-convention-center/stories/201410030099

McKeesport OKs Taking Vacant Homes Via Eminent Domain

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

McKeesport is expanding its vacant property recovery program to include parcels with structures.

Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the transfer of 10 properties to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of McKeesport through eminent domain. Parcels include empty lots and those with houses on them: 2718 Grandview Ave.; 621 Versailles Ave.; 1106 Ohio St.; 2105 Harrison St.; 2701 Riverview Ave.; 415, 417, 421 and 423 Twenty-Seventh Ave.; and 281 Rockwood St.

“This is another way to tackle the blight problem we have in the city,” Mayor Michael Cherepko said. “This process has typically been used to acquire vacant land adjacent to other properties. We’re now opening it to properties with structures on them when the purchaser has a plan.”

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