Cork Factory apartment complex in Strip District sold to Newtown investor
The new owner of the Cork Factory apartment complex in the Strip District is ready to make changes.
Gary Holloway Jr., president of GMH Capital Partners of Newtown, declined to provide the price he paid on Friday for the 297-unit Cork Factory apartment building, along with the adjacent 96-unit Lot 24 apartments and a 427-car garage with retail tenants.
Holloway, who toured the three buildings on Wednesday with seven members of his Philadelphia staff, said changes and upgrades he plans include a larger fitness center, an outdoor kitchen area with grill for tenants of both buildings, plus other upgrades at the Cork Factory but fewer at Lot 24 because it is newer.
A member of his staff will meet on Thursday with tenants of both buildings to outline details of the improvements, he said.
Sellers were Dan McCaffrey Interests of Chicago and Mt. Lebanon businessman Charles Hammel of Pitt-Ohio Express and partners, who developed the Cork Factory, along with the garage, which opened in 2006, and Lot 24, which opened in December 2012.
Rents start around $1,600 for units in the Cork Factory, and at $1,400 for Lot 24.
Holloway said both buildings attract “tenants of choice” who have the financial means to buy a house but prefer living in a Class A apartment.
“Both are 100 percent leased or close to it, and when an apartment becomes available, we have a waiting list and it is pre-leased quickly,” he said.
Holloway said he is “bullish on Pittsburgh” and he plans further purchases of apartment buildings in the region.
A 376-unit complex in Southpointe is under construction, with a spring 2015 opening planned. “We also are looking at Downtown and Cranberry for more development,” he said.
He praised McCaffrey and Hammel for developing the Cork Factory complex, which he said is at the top of the market — one of only a few in the region.
The site of the Cork Factory, the former Armstrong Cork factory at 2349 Railroad St., between 23rd and 24th streets in the Strip District, was purchased by Hammel and partners for $1.05 million in 1996 in a bankruptcy auction.
York Hanover of Canada had assumed control of the closed factory and property in the mid-1980s. It planned an apartment building on the site, but dropped its plans in 1992 after failing to get financing. In 1993, the next to try was Preservation Investments Inc. of Boston, but it dropped out within a year.
After Hammel's group took over ownership, Landmark America of Portland, Maine, became involved in 1996. But it dropped out in 2000. Hammel's group brought in a pair of Philadelphia investors in 2002.
The Pittsburgh Planning Commission approved the development project in 2002.
But it wasn't until 2004, when the McCaffrey Interests joined Hammel and Bob Beynon of Beynon Associates of Pittsburgh, that the development got under way, with construction starting in 2005.
Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7843 or firstname.lastname@example.org.