'Skinny building' in Downtown Pittsburgh set for facelift
Pittsburgh's Downtown is experiencing a construction surge, with 18 projects worth more than $770 million, officials said on Thursday.
The work includes exterior renovation of two historic buildings along Wood Street and skyscrapers such as the Gardens at Market Square hotel and office tower on Forbes Avenue.
“The majority of it is in the Golden Triangle,” Jeremy Waldrup, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, said of the work. “It really is going to significantly change the landscape, particularly in the core.”
Mayor Bill Peduto said he directed his administration to plan development around the preservation of existing structures.
“It's become a focus of our administration to use historic preservation as a critical tool of economic development,” he said. “Where we're ... expending taxpayer dollars, we're expecting developers not to put into the trash heap the history of the city of Pittsburgh but to polish it up and save it as a way of creating a uniqueness about Pittsburgh.”
The mayor's office, the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation will use the last of a $4 million state grant to restore exteriors on the former home of John M. Roberts & Co., a jeweler, and an adjoining structure known as the “skinny building” at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Wood Street. The work will cost $555,000.
The URA, which owns the buildings, leases them to a 7-Eleven convenience store in the Roberts building. The 7-Eleven, in turn, leases to Fello-Cire Apparel in the three-story skinny building, which measures 6 feet wide and originally was a hamburger stand.
“You take these buildings that were both eyesores and turn them into something that's pleasing to the eye,” said John Valentine, executive director of the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp. “It just enhances Downtown and makes more people want to come here.”
Paul Svoboda, the URA's special projects manager, said the agency would market the buildings. The lease with 7-Eleven continues until 2021.
City officials and preservationists in recent years used some of the grant money to renovate exteriors of eight buildings around Market Square, including three on Wood Street with rare cast-iron fronts.
Waldrup said Downtown is experiencing a major face-lift.
In addition to the $86 million Gardens at Market Square by Millcraft Industries, construction includes PNC's 33-story, $400 million office tower at Forbes and Wood.
Waldrup said renovations include the Oliver Building on Smithfield Street, the Regional Enterprise Tower on Sixth Avenue and the Union Trust Building on Grant Street. All told, it equals $772 million in construction for greater Downtown, which includes the North Shore, South Shore and Strip District, Waldrup said.
Bob Bauder is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.