Backbone of Pittsburgh's past could leave Golden Triangle
U.S. Steel Corp. is looking at moving out of its skyscraper headquarters that looms over Downtown as a symbol of Pittsburgh's legacy of steel.
Its lease at U.S. Steel Tower, the region's tallest building, expires in 2017, but the nation's largest steelmaker is scouting early for a site in the city or elsewhere in the region to relocate.
"We are investigating several options in light of business drivers such as cost, efficiency and logistics," said spokesman Chuck Rice. "We are exploring alternatives in order to arrive at the best long-term business solution for our company."
U.S. Steel occupies 14 of the skyscraper's 64 floors and employs about 1,500 people there, out of 39,000 worldwide.
"It would be a blow to have U.S. Steel leave Downtown, symbolically. We are known as the Steel City. It would be nice to have U.S. Steel remain here," said Arthur Ziegler Jr., president of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation.
"(Steel) was our leading industry, and U.S. Steel employed the most people in their day," Ziegler said. "They chose to build the tallest building at a very high site in the Golden Triangle, which is on an apex with The Point."
Ziegler noted the top of the tower aims directly down at The Point. He said the building's Cor-ten exterior demonstrated a new type of steel that rusted only on the surface to create a rich, brown color.
U.S. Steel formed in 1901, when financier J.P. Morgan led a group that bought Andrew Carnegie's steel interests for $492 million. U.S. Steel was the world's largest corporation and, that same year, was added to the list of companies comprising the Dow Jones industrial average. It was part of the Dow for 90 years until replaced by Walt Disney Co.
"It was in Pittsburgh, but its reach was far beyond Pittsburgh," said Perry Blatz, associate professor of history at Duquesne University.
U.S. Steel leaving the city would be "an important historic hallmark of change, but there are so many good and different things going on in Pittsburgh. Its old-time dependence on corporations and their power has been lessened," Blatz said. "It's an interesting thing, but not a predictor for the future."
U.S. Steel's Rice would not say where the company might relocate. He would not comment on whether U.S. Steel would move into an existing building or construct a new one.
A leading location may be Findlay. A 116-acre site there off McClaren Road, which is owned by the family of Oakdale District Judge Anthony Saveikis, could become a corporate headquarters.
"Jason Cannon of CBRE Inc. has been marketing the property, but I have no idea who may be interested in buying it," Saveikis said. He said the property has been under close inspection by a team of engineers exploring it for a client who has not been disclosed. Cannon could not be reached.
"I continue to hear rumors that U.S. Steel Corp. may be in the market for a new headquarters, but I have had no direct or indirect confirmation that it is looking at the property," Saveikis said.
Lou Oliva, of Grubb & Ellis, who has been leasing space at the McClaren Woods development in Findlay, said he has heard those rumors concerning U.S. Steel.
"I have a 100-acre site in the Westport Woods area near the airport available, which I have notified all the corporations - including U.S. Steel - of its availability," he said.
Occupying 450,000 square feet of space, U.S. Steel is the skyscraper's second-largest tenant. The largest is UPMC, the region's largest health care system, which occupies about 780,000 square feet, or about one-third of the building's 2.3 million square feet, and employs about 2,150 there. UPMC leased about 513,000 square feet in 2008 and placed its name in 20-foot-tall letters atop the building. U.S. Steel is known to have been considering a move from the building since that time.
The building is about 99 percent occupied, according to a survey from Jones Lang LaSalle, a Downtown commercial real estate company.
Mark Karasick, the head of a New York investment group that owns U.S. Steel Tower, could not be reached.
U.S. Steel moved into the tower in 1971, the year it was built on Grant Street. Prior to that, beginning in 1951, the company's headquarters was at 525 William Penn Place. That building is now Citizens Bank's area headquarters. Before the 1950s, the steelmaker was in the Carnegie Building, which stood where an addition to Kaufmann's (now Macy's) is now.
Commercial real estate experts say few existing buildings in Western Pennsylvania can accommodate U.S. Steel's current space needs.
"But there's a number of sites they could develop before 2017," when U.S. Steel's lease runs out, said Dan Adamski, managing director of Jones Lang LaSalle. "There's plenty of land around (Pittsburgh International) airport that the county owns." The area attracted Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. to build a corporate headquarters there in 2010.
He also pointed to land around Southpointe, a hotbed of Marcellus shale-related development in Washington County. He called the 911 acres across Interstate 79 "the region's best suburban park." Another company, Mylan Inc., moved its headquarters from Downtown to Southpointe in 2003.
Bob Beynon, CEO of Beynon Co. Real Estate, Downtown, said U.S. Steel might find the Union Trust Building across Grant Street to be a good candidate. "It has the size and the vacancy," he said.
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.
- Jerome Bettis to be enshrined in hall of fame
- Tennessee quarterback Peterman considers transfer to Pitt
- Suggestions are aplenty on what Penguins need to break through
- Starkey: Pitt needs this version of James Robinson
- Snow, freezing rain, bitter cold coming to Western Pa.
- Gulls fleeing frozen Great Lakes fill skies over Pittsburgh’s Point
- Westmoreland museum spotlights artist John Kane’s late-in-life fame
- Familiar Downtown Pittsburgh presence lost arm, leg to train
- Penguins minor league notebook: Rookie Wilson emerges as 3rd-line NHL prospect
- Pitt upsets No. 8 Notre Dame to snap losing streak
- Westmoreland Museum makeover draws raves