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1st spade turns in Bakery Square 2.0 project in East Liberty

| Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Five high-profile development projects in Pittsburgh made progress on Thursday, chief among them the ceremonial groundbreaking of the $100 million Bakery Square 2.0 retail, office and residential development on Penn Avenue in East Liberty.

Construction started on what eventually will become 400,000 square feet of office space spread over three L-shaped buildings, two 175-unit apartment complexes and 57 rental townhouses in the development envisioned by Walnut Capital, a private developer in Shadyside.

Work on the apartments is expected to be completed by summer 2014 and the office buildings by fall 2016.

In a separate project less than a mile away, Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority voted to sell a portion of Shakespeare Street to help private developer Mosites Co. move ahead with plans to build Eastside III and IV, a $75.2 million development of 54,600 square feet of retail space, 366 apartments and 595 parking spaces. Work could begin by mid-2014. The project is designed to complement a planned $52 million transit hub at Shady and Penn avenues.

The work would expand on Mosites' previous Eastside projects that have attracted the likes of Target and Whole Foods to a once economically depressed section of the city.

The URA also voted to open a 90-day exclusive negotiation period with PTC Lodging LP, a partnership of Hotel D2 Services Group and Millcraft Hospitality that hopes to build a hotel on a vacant 1.6-acre site in the Pittsburgh Technology Center on Second Avenue. The sale price is $1.57 million.

Tom Rosselot, president of Hotel D2, said the partners want the hotel's brand to be Hilton, but that has not been finalized.

In the South Side, the authority agreed to pay $15,000 to Walker Parking Consultants of Kalamazoo, Mich., to study construction of a fifth parking garage to support the SouthSide Works entertainment district between Hot Metal and 26th streets.

Acting URA Executive Director Robert Rubinstein said the Soffer Organization, the development firm behind SouthSide Works, intends to submit plans in two to three months to the URA to build an apartment complex and restaurant on a vacant site behind the REI sporting goods store.

In Downtown, the URA agreed to pay $25,000 for a building maintenance company to tend to the vacant Saks Fifth Avenue building on Smithfield Street for up to a year. The URA is negotiating the building's future with developers McKnight Development of Downtown and Millcraft Industries of Cecil. They want to buy the property and convert it to 100 apartments, 50,000 square feet of first-floor retail space and a 450-space parking structure. The URA began negotiations in October, but no clear end is in sight, officials said.

“McKnight and Millcraft continue to meet regularly to work on their formal development proposal,” Rubinstein said. “A development of this scale and complexity could easily take more than a year to mature.”

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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