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Developer eyes Fed building Downtown for hotel or offices

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By Sam Spatter
Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 1:03 p.m.

M&J Wilkow Ltd. of Chicago, which purchased the Waterfront shopping complex in the Homestead-West Homestead-Munhall region in October, is planning to buy the vacant Federal Reserve Bank building Downtown.

The company revealed Wednesday that it had an agreement to buy the 12-story building for an undisclosed price from the Federal Reserve. The Fed staff relocated in October to One Oxford Centre, Downtown.

“We should close within 40 days on the property, which we have obtained a sales agreement,” said Martin Sweeney, M&J's vice president of acquisitions, who made the announcement at an Urban Land Institute panel discussion at the Rivers Club.

June Gates, a spokeswoman for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, which oversees the Pittsburgh operations, declined to confirm the bank's agreement with M&J.

“We don't have a sale yet, so I don't have any information for you at this time,” she said.

M&J may convert the building into an office building or a boutique hotel, Sweeney said.

He said the company probably would use a partner to complete the deal but did not identify one.

“This would make a great place for a data center since the building has a major vault,” Sweeney said.

The vault deep inside the building measures 38 by 60 feet and is covered by a steel door that is 30 inches thick.

Among changes planned for the building are adding a 3,000-square-foot rooftop deck, installing a fitness center and gutting the interior but not touching the mechanical systems, which are modern and efficient. There also is a parking deck.

The building, at 715 Grant St., was built in 1931.

Until 1997, the Pittsburgh branch sorted worn currency from Western Pennsylvania banks, shredded bad bills and stored the ones fit for continued circulation until sent to banks. The Cleveland bank took over those functions after 1997.

M&J teamed with Big Shopping CentersUSA of California to purchase the Waterfront for a reported $110.1 million.

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

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