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By Sam Spatter
Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, 8:54 p.m.

• The region's commercial construction market is in a “sluggish” year, according to Tall Timber Group, a Ross-based research and consulting firm. Contracting activity for the nine months ended Sept. 30 totaled $2.25 billion, up 7 percent from the same period last year — if the $1.2 billion Allegheny Ludlum plant in Brackenridge is excluded from the 2011 numbers, while the 2012 numbers include the start of PNC's Downtown headquarters. “It's difficult to compare accurately when there is a project that spans as many years as the Allegheny Ludlum project,” said Jeff Burd, of Tall Timber.

• McDonalds Corp. is seeking special exception and zoning variance on Thursday from the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment for a one-story restaurant at Waterworks Shopping Center, 907 Freeport Road. Able Industries Inc. will seek a variance for two 196-foot wall-mounted signs on the six-story Hyatt House hotel being built by Concord Hospitality Enterprises and Oxford Development at 2795 S. Water St., SouthSide Works. Damon Givner and Royce Daniels want a variance for commercial truck parking next to a two-story, single-family dwelling at 6332 Dean St., East Liberty.

• The 4th Annual Commercial Real Estate Finance Update, sponsored by Commercial Real Estate Women, will be held Tuesday at the Rivers Club, One Oxford Centre, Downtown. Daniel P. Puntil, senior vice president, Grandebridge Real Estate Capital LLC, will moderate a panel of Mario Lainez, Citi Global Markets Inc.; Clinton Soose, vice president, BlackRock; and John Schwartzkoft, investment officer, Ohio National Financial Services.

• Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is the recipient of a Downtown Merit Award by the International Downtown Association for its Project Pop Up: Downtown. The program awarded 11 grants of $10,000 to turn vacant space into art and/or retail ventures for up to 12 months.

• Rice Inn, an Asian buffet restaurant, leased 2,450 square feet in the former Pizza Hut building at 5055 Library Rd., Bethel Park. Janet Nassif of Keller Williams Real Estate, McMurray, represented Rice. Linda Berger of Brixmor Property Group represented the owner, Brixmor.

• L. Marchando Auto Tags & Notary opened in Krebs Center, 3515 Washington Road, McMurray. The owner, Lisa Marchando, has almost 10 years of automobile titling and notarizing experience, working with her father's busines, Denny's Motorcars Inc.

• Bill Charles of Mascaro Construction, Justin Rosenberry of Carnegie Mellon University and Joe Hahn of Carpenters Local Union 211 made up the winning team in the 2012 Design/Build Competition, hosted by the Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters and the Master Builders' Association. The event was held at the Carpenters Training Center, Robinson.

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

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