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Sale of jewelry center Clark Building, Downtown, pending for $7M

| Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 6:46 p.m.

The historic 23-story Clark Building in Downtown is under contract to be sold for $7 million.

The sale, conducted by auction on Dec. 6, was through Auction.com, a website that conducts auctions on real estate properties nationwide.

Jesse Terry of Rockwood Real Estate Advisors of Bethesda, Md., who acted as agent for the owner, said a contract has been obtained on the sale of the building, but he would not identify the buyer.

Terry said the closing won't occur until mid-January.

Some Pittsburgh real estate agents said they understand PMC Properties, a Philadelphia-based real estate management company, is the buyer. Repeated calls to PMC in Philadelphia were not returned.

The Clark Building, at 717 Liberty Ave., is known as a center for privately owned jewelry retail, repair and wholesale businesses and exchanges. The building has six floors and a mezzanine leased to 20 jewelry and related companies plus a few small retailers.

Terry's company served as an adviser to owner 717 Liberty Avenue General Partner, which acquired the building in May at a sheriff's sale for $1,367. That entity is a part of CWCapital Asset Management LLC, which represented a group of unidentified bond holders who foreclosed on the building. CWCapital could not be reached for comment.

CWCapital foreclosed on Singularity Clark LP, a New York-based partnership, which had purchased the building for $22.5 million in 2006. The seller was Hoban Realty LP, who acquired the building in 1998 for $9.1 million. The Hobans were co-founders of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, which became Le Cordon Bleu.

PMC — Philadelphia Management Co. — has been active in Pittsburgh's Downtown, purchasing at least five buildings or properties that it plans to convert entirely to apartments or as a mixed use facility, with both offices and apartments.

It's first purchase was the former Verizon building at 201 Stanwix St., which has been converted into 158 apartments on floors above the a charter school. Further acquisitions have been the Regional Enterprise Tower, the James Reed (Reed Smith) Building, both in the 400 block of Sixth Avenue, and the 10-story Jackman Building on Penn Avenue. PMC is said to be the future buyer of the John Robin Civic Building at 200 Ross St.

PMC also purchased an existing apartment building, the Penn-Garrison in the 900 block of Penn Avenue, and increased the number of rooms from 117 to 150.

Jim Kelly. a principal and senior vice president at Avison Young, along with Michael Downey of the same firm, had been attempting to lease the Clark Building to new tenants.

Kelly said he was instructed by Rockwood to hold off future leasing activities. He said he did not learn the name of the potential buyer.

Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or sspatter@tribweb.com.

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