Bakery Square 2.0 will be pegged at $100M
Walnut Capital Partners executives say their success in converting and leasing a former Nabisco cracker factory into the $100 million Bakery Square complex in East Liberty is their motivation to spend an equal amount to develop a site across Penn Avenue into an equally ambitious project.
Called Bakery Square 2.0, the project will remake the former Reizenstein Middle School property, the developer told East End residents.
"We plan several five-story office buildings, containing 400,000 square feet, plus 90 rental townhomes and 20 single-family houses," said Todd Reidbord, a principal of Walnut Capital Partners, the developer of both projects. "We spent $100 million on Bakery Square, and we will be spending $100 million on this project."
Residents, however, questioned a zoning change that the developer wants. They said the change could result in less desirable development in the neighborhood and nearby areas and, therefore, want more restricted zoning.
Details of the new project were presented for the first time to about 100 neighborhood residents on Wednesday night during a briefing at Bakery Square. Once Walnut Capital completes the purchase of the school property from Pittsburgh Public Schools, expected by year-end, demolition will begin, Reidbord said.
"Our plan is to recycle the school material and keep it on site, although we probably will move steel from the property by trucks, using only Penn Avenue to enter and leave the property, thus avoiding any residential streets," Reidbord said.
In a statement, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said: "We've seen the overwhelming success of Bakery Square, which transformed the former Nabisco plant into the home of Google's growing Pittsburgh headquarters. Bakery Square 2.0 will continue this positive momentum, providing more space for businesses that will create local jobs and more homes."
Walnut Capital's plan calls for office buildings that will front on Penn Avenue, depending on spacing needs of future tenants. Townhomes will be built in phases; the first phase will consists of 30 units, with rentals in the $2,500 range. The townhomes will be built in strips that face other townhomes with a small green area and a road between them. The single-family houses will be closer to the existing residential area along Marchand and Aurelia streets, but won't have any direct street connection to those streets.
"Howard Hanna Real Estate is currently seeking developers interested in building the single-family houses," Reidbord said.
Walnut Capital's plan for the 12-acre school site is not set in stone, he said. The plan could change if the city doesn't approve a proposed zoning change for the property, from residential to Urban Industrial (UI).
"It allows us the density we need to develop the property," Reidbord said.
A number of residents, including city Councilman Bill Peduto, questioned whether another zoning classification, such as AP (combination residential and commercial) or SP (Special Planning, also residential/commercial) would be more appropriate.
Reidbord said residents can express their views at public hearings on the rezoning request; the first is scheduled for May 29 before the City Planning Commission. The final zoning approval rests with the nine-member City Council, which also will conduct a public hearing.
"Unless you include covenants in the UI zoning that would prohibit a strip club or gas station on that site, I would not like the UI zoning change," said Rob Pfaffmann, an architect and resident of Filbert Street in Shadyside. "You would also be opening the door for more UI zoning in that area."
Reidbord said he would agree to providing covenants restricting uses.
"Send me a list of what you want to include in covenants, and we can discuss them," he suggested.
Barbara Ernsberger, of Bayard Street in Shadyside and a former member of the City Planning Commission, said she favors a different zoning classification for the site.
Virgina Flaherty-Cormyn, of Lehigh Street in Shadyside asked if Reidbord's position on the Planning Commission could influence the vote. To avoid a conflict of interest, Reidbord said he will recuse himself from voting on items involving his company, and does not attend hearings when such a proposal is considered.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ford City budget may not be final
- 2,200 union employees of ATI lose coverage
- Angel trees feature pets from shelter
- Babies welcomed to the world in holiday style
- November spared Valley effects of wintry weather
- Mentor takes young Brackenridge hunter under his wing
- Eastern Pa. man jailed in Armstrong County
- Shoppers can buy gifts for seniors through Home Instead program
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Demand for surveillance systems boosts sales for Vector Security
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar