| News

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Plan for former Saks building enters negotiations

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, 3:16 p.m.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh on Thursday started negotiations with two developers to transform the Downtown block that's home to the closed Saks Fifth Avenue into a complex with retail space, 101 apartments and a garage.

Millcraft Investments and McKnight Realty Partners teamed to propose the development.

The URA's board of directors agreed to grant exclusive negotiation rights to them for 90 days, with an option for a 60-day extension.

Brian Walker, Millcraft's chief financial offier, said details such as the cost and financing of the project need to be worked out with the URA and Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

“Right now, multi-family housing in Downtown Pittsburgh is number one in the nation,” Walker said. “We're seeing the successes of that.”

For example, Walker said 155 of the 218 units in Millcraft's River Vue Apartments — the former State Office Building — were leased in May.

“In eight months, we're going to be 90 percent occupied,” he said. “There's a reason people are coming Downtown. It's because of investments like McKnight's and Millcraft's.”

Walker said the apartments would offer great views and likely have a green roof that residents could access. He said it's too early to determine whether taxpayer-backed financing would be needed to pay for some of the cost of the garage with at least 400 spaces.

Robert Rubinstein, the URA's acting executive director, said the proposal beat out two plans. It capitalizes on a strategy to meet growing demand for Downtown apartments and small retailers.

Millcraft and McKnight are uniquely positioned to take on the project.

Millcraft's Piatt Place residential development abuts the Saks site, and McKnight owns the nearby Oliver Building, where guests of a planned hotel could use spaces in the proposed garage. Other spaces would be reserved for residents and some would be open to the public.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.




Show commenting policy

Most-Read News