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Kaufmann's in Downtown Pittsburgh transforming into 'high-tech' apartments

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, 5:45 p.m.
A computer rendering of the rooftop infinity swimming pool, tennis court and running track envisioned for the new apartment complex in the former Kaufmann's department store building in Downtown Pittsburgh.
Desmone Architects
A computer rendering of the rooftop infinity swimming pool, tennis court and running track envisioned for the new apartment complex in the former Kaufmann's department store building in Downtown Pittsburgh.
The former Macy's department store as seen on July 13, 2015. Teh building also used to house the Kaufmann's department store.
Nate Smallwood | Trib Total Media
The former Macy's department store as seen on July 13, 2015. Teh building also used to house the Kaufmann's department store.

Pittsburgh's first high-tech apartments are coming to the iconic Downtown building that once housed Kaufmann's and, more recently, Macy's.

Michael Samschick, president and CEO of Philadelphia-based Core Realty, which is renovating the building, said 311 luxury apartments will feature voice-activated controls for everything from heat and air conditioning to window shades and the morning coffee pot.

Core has renamed the building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Smithfield Street: Kaufmann's Grand on Fifth Avenue .

Core bought the building from Macy's for $15 million in 2015, and is planning to retrofit it for apartments, a hotel and stores. Samschick said the company has so far spent more than $100 million on renovations.

"The bedrooms are glass walls, the bathrooms are glass, everything is a modern touch, high technology," Samschick said. "It's really one of a kind."

He said the building is 65 percent completed and the company is now leasing one- and two-bedroom apartments expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2018. Core Realty's website lists rents ranging from $1,378 a month for a studio to $2,371 for a two-bedroom apartment.

In addition, EVEN Hotel, which is part of the complex, is scheduled to open in the spring.

Residents will have access to four floors of parking, an automated spa, movie media center, gym, virtual reality game room, dog grooming station, two atria and room service for breakfast and dinner.

The rooftop will feature a tennis court, running track and infinity pool equipped with a glass side.

"When you're swimming in the pool you're going to think you're swimming off the edge of the building," Samschick said.

Mayor Bill Peduto said the building will be an anchor for redevelopment of Smithfield Street. He said the city is planning to upgrade infrastructure and pave the street over the next five years.

"Smithfield connects Station Square all the way to the Strip District," he said. "It should be one of our most vital business corridors in the city. Small independent shops that are anchored by larger national tenants should be what we see within the next five years."

Samschick would not discuss potential retailers that might move in, but said Core has letters of intent from four companies interested in being in the building.

He said the company intends to keep as many of the building's historic features as possible.

"Originally we weren't even going to call this the Kaufmann's Grand," he said. "We had another name, but after you walk through this building, it screams Kaufmann's, it screams history."

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or @bobbauder.

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