Pittsburgh Downtown at Night (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The development boom in the city center is showing no signs of abating.
Whether it’s in urban living, where three-quarters of the residents are relative newcomers, or light-rail transit usage, which saw an increase last year thanks to the new North Shore Connector, or reports of yet another hotel in the works, Downtown’s fortunes continue to be on the rise.
At least that appears to be the case based on a new Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership report measuring economic activity in and around the Golden Triangle last year. The “State of Downtown Pittsburgh 2013″ details a number of encouraging trends, from the widely reported bump in residential and office space demand to an increase in the number of building permits issued for improvements last year.
Overall, the partnership counted 60 projects totaling more than $2.2 billion that have been announced or are under construction in the city’s core and fringes, including the 33-story, $400 million Tower at PNC Plaza on Wood Street, which is scheduled to open in the summer of 2015.
U.S. Steel Tower in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Imagine this incredible Downtown experience. You enter the lower elevator station on the Seventh Avenue side of the U.S. Steel Tower. As you rise up the side of the building in a glass elevator, the cityscape expands to ever-longer perspectives up the Allegheny River. As magnificent as these vistas are, they’re a mere prelude to the scenic wonderland at the top.
Welcome to High Point Pittsburgh!
A glass atrium encloses the building’s entire 1-acre rooftop, creating 60,000 square feet of interior space on two levels and a glass-walled, open-air promenade at the very top.
High Point Pittsburgh’s heart is Stage HP, a spacious center area and performance venue. The main floor also features the Gallery of Interactive Arts; the New Top of the Triangle restaurant; Pie-in-the-Sky cafe; and The High Bar, the city’s loftiest watering hole. “Viewseums,” expansive garden areas in each corner of the triangular structure, are places to ponder the amazing vistas. Glass-floored sections look down 850 feet to the streets below.
PPG Place in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A little more than a year after acquiring the Downtown complex, the owner of PPG Place is eyeing a property makeover that could drastically alter the food court and Wintergarden as well as the space fronting Market Square.
Highwoods Properties is seeking to upgrade PPG’s retail space and is considering the option of replacing the food court with a grocery, CEO and president Ed Fritsch said.
“We’re evaluating a number of options, and that certainly is one of them,” he said. ”It is still early on. I think any Downtown worker or resident … would love to have that type of shopping amenity in Downtown.”
Highwoods paid $179.4 million in September 2011 to acquire the glass castle-like, six-building complex in the heart of Downtown and has boosted the office occupancy from 81.2 percent to more than 90 percent since then. It also is in the process of making $17.1 million in capital improvements, including new signs and directories and modernized air conditioning and heating systems and elevators.
You can ring in the new year at home with Ryan Seacrest — sadly, we lost Dick Clark this year — or you can join the crowd at one of the city’s most festive celebrations, Highmark First Night Pittsburgh.
As Stefon would say on “Saturday Night Live,” it has everything: Bollywood dancers, Japanese sword dancers, rockers, hip-hoppers, puppet paraders, treasure mappers, unicycling jugglers, human pinatas — no, not really pinatas, but that’s about all it doesn’t have.
It begins at 6 p.m. Monday with a Dollar Bank Children’s Fireworks Display and a performance by Adam Brock & The Soul Band on the Dollar Bank Stage at Seventh Street and Penn Avenue.
The evening concludes with a performance by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a New Orleans jazz/R&B institution since 1977, and then the Countdown to Midnight and Future of Pittsburgh Grand Finale atop Penn Avenue Place and Fifth Avenue Place.
A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Pittsburgh police are hoping Light Up Night revelers will avoid the buzz kill of a parking ticket or trip to the tow pound.
They are recommending extra caution tonight for those who drive to the festivities. Because several parking meters have been removed and replaced with kiosks, the temporary “no parking” signs might not be as in-your-face as when they were attached to each meter. They recommend that visitors park in lots or garages rather than on the streets.
As an added precaution, they are urging visitors not to leave valuables like iPods, laptops or GPS devices within sight in their vehicles.
“The holiday season is upon us and there are predators who seek the opportunity to vandalize vehicles when they observe unsecured valuables left in plain view,” said police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
A Philadelphia developer is poised to grab yet another property Downtown, its fifth in the last two years.
PMC Property Group has signed a sales agreement with Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile to buy the Jackman Building at 526 Penn Ave. next to the Penn and Sixth Street parking garage in the Cultural District.
It will be another spring before the fountain at Point State Park bubbles up again.
That was the message Thursday about progress on the $9.6 million fountain renovation, which began in late 2011, part of a $35 million makeover of the entire park.
If the weather stays mild, flooding remains minimal and the construction work proceeds smoothly, park manager Matt Greene said he is “cautiously optimistic” that water will return to the fountain in spring 2013. The fountain was shut off in April 2009.
“So far, so good,” Mr. Greene said as he surveyed the tip of the Point.
Pennsylvania’s second-largest city is going Hollywood. Pittsburgh, or more aptly named “Glitzburgh”, has hosted some serious movie action as of late. The biggest movie to film in the area is the latest installment of the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Rises
The Batman franchise has been commercially successful. The last installment, The Dark Knight grossed over $1 BILLION! Bringing the film to Pittsburgh has been an economic boon for many downtown businesses and Greater Pittsburgh in general. In addition, I read there were 3,000 extras hired for the film while in Pittsburgh. 9,000 people showed up for a chance to be in the movie.
Read the article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and see what impact a big-budget film can have on the hosting community.
Bank of New York Mellon is cutting 1,500 jobs world-wide to reduce costs. While the company is generating excellent revenue, expenses are up 20 percent over this time last year. A hiring freeze is being implemented as well as a cut back on temps and contract workers.
BNY Mellon is a LARGE employer in the Pittsburgh region. There are about 7,700 BNY Mellon employees, mostly in downtown Pittsburgh. BNY Mellon has targeted Pittsburgh as a low-cost global growth center! That means BNY Mellon will continue to move jobs to the Pittsburgh region. This is excellent news for Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania!
Downtown Pittsburgh skyscrapers are filling up fast. Occupancy rate in many buildings is in the 90 percent range. This is a drastic change from a few years ago when many buildings had high vacancy rates. Owners were making deals with tenants to keep them.
Now landlords are naming their price and tenants are willing to pay the asking rates. Several large buildings have come off the market after investors decided they could not reinvest anywhere else and get a better return than in downtown Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, New York and San Francisco had the largest increases in average office rents in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The Gateway Center Complex (four buildings) was recently taken off the market as well as the 32-story EQT Tower. The owners decided retaining ownership was in their best interest given Pittsburgh’s bullish market.
Eleven Stanwix Street has gone from a 50 percent to a 94 percent occupancy rate. The building is now up for sale but the owner is still receiving calls to lease space. The Oliver Building and the Regional Enterprise Tower are also for sale. The USX Tower (Pittsburgh’s tallest building at 64-stories) is in the process of being sold and has reached a tentative agreement with the new group of investors. The purchase price is around $250 million according to the Wall Street Journal.
As occupancy rates climb and office space becomes scare, tenants are willing to pay higher rates to be in a full building (which is characterized as being in the upper 80 to lower 90 percentage leased category).