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Pittsburgh Public Market moves closer to securing new home in the Strip District

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 12:57 p.m.

The Pittsburgh Public Market is moving closer to upgrading to a larger home in the Strip District.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office said Wednesday that the market plans to move this summer from its space in the Pittsburgh Produce Terminal Building to a cinder-block office building at 2401 Penn Avenue, about a half-mile east.

Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip, which manages the market, said the nonprofit agreed to a nine-year lease with a renewal option every three years. She wouldn't disclose the rental price. The market could open as early as June.

The listed rental rate on the property is $5.95 per square foot, per year, or about $153,000 a year.

Neighbors in the Strip is trying to raise an unspecified amount of money to pay for extensive renovations to the building, said Rick Schweikert, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker, which marketed the property.

“It's not a lease until they come up with funding. In many ways, the property owner is locked into it, but the tenant doesn't have to proceed unless they get funding,” Schweikert said.

Schweikert said Neighbors in the Strip hopes to open the walls on the Penn Avenue side of the building so shoppers can see and walk into the shops through roll-up doors. Customers must climb a few steps at the Produce Terminal. The new building is sidewalk level, so it will be handicapped accessible, Schweikert said.

“It is exciting. What's great about this location is it continues the Strip,” Rodgers said. “This keeps extending it and making a connection between the upper part of the Strip and the lower part, and we'll be located near residential.”

The new spot would double the space available to the more than 40 merchants who sell crafts, food and beer, and offer amenities to shoppers including air-conditioning, heating and restrooms. Rodgers said an architect is working on plans.

Merchants would have space to cook in a commercial kitchen that could be open to the public for cooking demonstrations. Air-conditioning would permit chocolates, candy and ice cream to be sold at the market once again, according to Neighbors in the Strip.

The market is relocating because organizers want more space and building amenities, and organizers hope to extend operating hours to five days a week. It's open Friday, Saturday and Sunday now. They also want to stay clear of the construction zone that would be created if Strip District-based Buncher Co. follows through with plans to demolish a portion of the more than 80-year-old produce terminal and renovate the rest of it.

Rodgers said the market helped establish more than 70 small business and generated $2.4 million in gross sales.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority gave $40,000 on Jan. 10 to help Neighbors in the Strip pay for relocation and renovation costs. The URA provided a $100,000 grant in 2010 to establish the market.

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

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