Almost three years after city zoners approved developer Scott Graeber’s plan to turn the old Posey Iron Works administration offices into apartments, the building will soon welcome its first tenants.
Known as Lancaster Ironworks, the project involved renovating the approximately 9,000-square-foot, two-story brick structure at 560 S. Prince St. into 11 apartments, with rents starting at $900 a month.
According to newspaper records, the edifice was designed by Lancaster architect Henry Y. Shaub and constructed in two sections, in 1910 and 1916. It features a grand staircase, wood paneling, concrete flooring and a steel substructure.
Posey Iron Works, which operated until 1983, manufactured pipe, piling steel and wrought iron for industry. Its pipes were used to dredge the Panama Canal, and it supplied the Army and Navy during both World Wars, newspaper accounts show.
While it’s no European-style piazza, some believe the area around the newly restored park could be primed to become one of Downtown’s next hot spots for restaurants and retail.
“I see it becoming the next great Downtown destination,” said Herky Pollock, executive vice president of the CBRE real estate firm.
Only a few years ago, the Smithfield Street corridor between Fifth and Liberty avenues that includes Mellon Square appeared to be ready for last rites.
From atop the Lando Building at Penn Avenue and Ninth Street, Todd Palacic can see PNC Park, kayaks on the Allegheny River, construction work on The Tower at PNC Plaza and glimpses of the shimmering glass of PPG Place.
Palacic, who is developing the seven-story structure into 27 apartments and building a deck on its roof, foresees tenants throwing parties, watching fireworks and lounging amid Pittsburgh’s skyline.
“People who live Downtown want to show off, and a deck allows them to show off,” Palacic, a developer at Penn Avenue Renaissance, said as he leaned over the deck railing to look out over the river. “A lot of first kisses will happen up here on this deck. I guarantee it.”
As more people move Downtown — the population jumped 10.5 percent in the past three years, reaching more than 7,500, according to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership — residents are claiming rooftops as social spaces to dine, drink, relax and take in sights. Restaurants have opened rooftop bars and seating areas. Nearly 10 apartment complexes boast roof patios and lounges, and new developments almost all have rooftop plans.
Downtown should be an exciting place to go or live. It remains an important indicator of any city’s health.
For the past 20 years, the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership has worked to revitalize Downtown and will call attention to its progress with eight days of activities called “Celebrate Downtown” from July 14 to 21.
New this year to the annual Celebrate Downtown attractions are Dining Around, sampling food and drink at some of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants; All Access Pittsburgh, a series of tours; and Open Streets, which will create space for people to enjoy part of Downtown free of cars, buses and trucks.
The creation of the Cultural District and revitalization of Market Square are only part of the changes Downtown. More than 12,000 people live Downtown now, with more than 2,000 new apartments coming.
The talk at Macy’s Downtown on Thursday was not so much about Father’s Day sales or new fall fashions as it was about plans to turn much of the venerable old building with the famous clock into residences.
Philadelphia developer Core Realty has reached an agreement to buy the 13-story building on Smithfield Street with the intent of converting all but four floors into apartments, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned.
As part of the sale, Macy’s department store would stay, although the number of floors devoted to retail would be shrinking once again. The store, once a 12-floor behemoth, is expected to be housed on the building’s first four floors, minus the mezzanine level, which would be closed and used as an entrance for residents.
Three years ago, Macy’s cut the number of floors in half, consolidating all retail, including furniture, on the first six floors of the building, plus the mezzanine.
Fred and Christine Thieman migrated from the suburbs to Downtown when their youngest child went to college about three years ago.
That year, for the first time in more than 90 years, the nation’s biggest cities, including Pittsburgh, grew faster than their suburbs, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington policy group.
The trend continued in each of the past two years, though growth rates for cities and suburbs hover around 1 percent and the gap between them is narrowing, Brookings reported in May.
But the population living Downtown has soared. Census data show the area was home to 12,343 people last year, up 10.5 percent from 2010.
When it comes to economic and residential growth, the Golden Triangle has had the golden touch in recent years, with almost $800 million in development under construction and about twice that much planned.
A study released on Thursday predicts that trend will continue with explosive development of apartments, hotels and retail and high-end office space in Pittsburgh’s Greater Downtown, including the Triangle, North Shore, South Shore, Uptown, the Bluff and near Strip District as far northeast as 31st Street.
“We’re only experiencing the beginning of Downtown’s transformation,” said Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership.
The partnership produced the study, which looked at economic indicators in several key areas to evaluate Downtown’s vitality. It gave the results in a presentation at Union Trust Building — itself a symbol of Downtown’s revitalization.
At first glance, the Coraopolis Railroad Station appears rundown, but a closer look reveals a piece of history that Coraopolis residents have rallied to save.
Named by Preservation Pennsylvania this year as one of the most endangered historical sites in the state, the train station was built in 1895 in Richardsonian Romanesque style based on a design by architects Shepley Rutan and Coolidge.
About eight years ago, four families who wanted to help restore the station bought the building that had been abandoned about 30 years ago and began what came to be known as the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation. The organizers are planning a video, an online fundraising campaign and other efforts.
In what would transform a bedraggled slice of central Philadelphia, demolition crews are weeks away from dismantling nearly an entire side of the 1100 block of Chestnut Street, part of a $60 million to $70 million redevelopment tapping the soaring apartment market and surging appetites to shop and live east of Broad Street.
Zoning approvals and permits are in place, additional property was acquired as recently as Thursday, and a large section of sidewalk has been closed as lead development partner Brickstone Co. prepares to build a complex of loft-style apartments above towering, three-story retail spaces.
The development will stretch almost the length of the south side of Chestnut between 11th and 12th Streets, Brickstone managing partner John J. Connors said.
Connors would not discuss what tenants are being courted, but the project could include a supermarket if rumors swirling among civic activist circles are true.
WILKES-BARRE, PA —Floors three to 11 are empty.
That’s what is on the board in the lobby of the downtown PNC Bank Building. It lists the only tenant — PNC Bank — which occupies the first and second floor of the 12-story building.
But if plans go forward, those nine floors of the building at Market and Franklin streets will become market-priced condominiums with views of the Susquehanna River and the River Common park. Some office space will also be created, according to the building’s owner.
Ben Oller, of Oller and Associates of Philadelphia, said Monday his real estate investment company owns the building and is partnering with a local developer to renovate the bank building, following the lead of a similar project at the nearby the former Citizens Bank Building, also Market Street. Oller would not disclose the name of the local development company.
Hays School had been empty for 30 years when Bob Dagostino drove by one morning and saw the “For Sale” sign. He copied the number and called for a tour. At the time, his electronics business Downtown was outgrowing its third location.
“At our other place, [employees] sat an arm’s length apart,” said Chuck Roberts, vice president of Dagostino Electronic Services. “Bob brought me in look at the school and I said, ‘Why don’t we get a renovated space?’ and he said, ‘No, no, this is our headquarters.’ He had a vision.”
It often takes vision to remake a century-old school. Pittsburgh has scores of them, some in private hands, some long vacant, several converted into apartments and 19 still to be sold. Pittsburgh Public Schools has contracted with Fourth River Development to sell them.
The former Schenley High School in North Oakland sold last year for $5.2 million and is slated for luxury housing. McCleary School in Upper Lawrenceville sold last year for $410,000 to a residential developer. Morningside School has been approved for sale to the Urban Redevelopment Authority for $275,000, also for housing; negotiations are underway “as we speak,” said Patrick Morosetti, sales and leasing manager for Fourth River Development.
NORRISTOWN, PA — The consensus of public opinion Tuesday night about a proposal to build 100 independent-living apartments for seniors and a senior support building at the former Montgomery Hospital site on Powell Street was largely positive.
More than 25 Norristown residents heard the first public presentation of the plans by the Elon Group of Fort Washington at the Montgomery County Human Services Center from Francis Vargas, vice president of the Elon Group, and several executives from Einstein Healthcare Network (EHN), which owns the 365,000-square-foot, seven-story building and 3.7-acre parcel.
“The proposal is not much different from last year as far as the senior housing,” said Norristown Councilwoman Linda Christian. “Last year the proposal was for the overall, same amount of units that was denied by the funders.”
WILKES-BARRE – Six floors of the historic Citizens Bank building in downtown Wilkes-Barre soon will be converted into 72 luxury apartments.
DxDempsey Architecture in Scranton is designing the apartments in one of the city’s tallest office buildings on West Market Street.
“It’s a very exciting project,” said architect Michelle Dempsey, president of the firm. “It’s in the works and there are still some financial hurdles to leap over, but it’s looking good. Living downtown is great for the downtown. People who live downtown shop downtown and it makes it a safe place. People living downtown is the first step to a successful revitalization.”
The historic bank building was designed by architect Daniel Burnham, who also designed icons like the Flatiron Building in New York City and was a main character in the book, “The Devil in the White City.”
WILKES-BARRE, PA — The city is shopping its downtown properties cleared during emergency demolition and sweetening the offer with the prospect of tax exemptions associated with a Keystone Opportunity Zone.
The city condemned its vacant structures last October that were in danger of collapse and entered a $194,861 contract to tear them down while leaving stand two other privately owned buildings located in the middle of the cluster.
Earlier this week, the city put out a request for proposals for development of the properties at 69, 71, 73-75 S. Main St. with a March 6 response deadline. The city would like to see multistory, mixed-use development on the site to include ground-floor specialty retail shops and restaurants and office or residential space above, similar to the University Corners property across the street.
The Ambler Boiler House and the Arborcrest office campus are getting some high praise for jobs well done.
The two construction projects were among five recipients of the 2013 Montgomery Awards, sponsored by the Montgomery County Planning Commission Nov. 13.
Accoring to a Montgomery County press release, the awards are given to outstanding projects and their creators for the best planning and design in the county. The award is an acknowledgment of the high quality of work and the commitment of communities, organizations and professionals.
According to a press release, the Boiler House was the recipient of the award for “the successful revitalization and adaptive reuse of an historic industrial structure in a state-of-the-art office building that incorporates sustainable design. This transit-oriented project, once a brownfield site, recognizes Ambler’s industrial heritage while advancing the borough’s revitalization efforts and providing environmental and economic benefits to the community.”
CONSHOHOCKEN — The Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority (RDA) has released redacted copies of two proposals to redevelop the Verizon building and a vacant parcel at the intersection of Fayette and Elm streets, reuse the historic Washington Fire Co. building and provide additional parking for Fayette Street merchants and shoppers.
The Times Herald filed a Right to Know request July 26 for the two proposals from Brandywine Realty Trust (BRT) of Radnor, Delaware County, and Keystone Property Group (KPG) of Lower Merion after officials at the RDA refused to provide the proposals without allowing the two realty development companies to redact “confidential and proprietary information.”
Jerry Nugent III, the executive director of the RDA, said in a July 31 letter that the information was “commercial or financial information received by an agency which is privileged or confidential and the disclosure of which would cause substantial harm to the competitive position of the person that submitted the information.”
The redacted version of the BRT proposal included an executive summary and six conceptual drawings illustrating the firm’s plans for replacing the Verizon building at 402 Fayette St., with a 24,000-square-foot building for borough workers and the police department.
Easton‘s iconic brick and stone skyscraper is on target to be in new hands by the end of the year.
Mayor Sal Panto Jr. confirmed that the city is talking to a pair of finalists who want to buy the 91/2 -story city-owned Alpha Building, which anchors the southwest corner of Centre Square. The city agreed earlier this year to list the building for sale and solicit proposals from developers.
Officials declined to name the two finalists, or to say how many proposals were received — although Panto did say it was more than two.
“We are working more with one (developer) because they offered more,” Panto said of the ongoing negotiations.
WEST PITTSTON— It was this important to area hotelier Gus Genetti: He admitted he had donned a suit “for the first time in two weeks” since having open heart surgery.
The cause that spurred him? Saving Wilkes-Barre’s historic New Jersey Central train station.
“This is a gateway to the historic part of Wilkes-Barre,” Genetti told the Luzerne County Redevelopment Authority Board at its meeting Tuesday afternoon.
The authority bought the train station and surrounding land, including a strip mall on Market Street near Wilkes-Barre Boulevard, in 2006 using most of a $6.1 million loan from Luzerne County.