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Pittsburgh's landmark Kaufmann's building to reopen in November

Bob Bauder
| Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, 4:06 p.m.
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.

Pittsburghers meeting under the clock at the landmark Kaufmann's Building will soon be able to venture inside for a drink, dinner or overnight stay in a boutique hotel room.

Philadelphia-based Core Realty is scheduled to open the doors Nov. 1 for a VIP ribbon-cutting. A 160-room Even Hotel is scheduled to open next year.

Core bought the building for $15 million from Macy's, which closed its department store there in September 2015. Core has dubbed the building Kaufmann's Grand on Fifth.

Kevin Acklin, Pittsburgh's chief development officer and Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff, toured the building in August and said Core is nearing completion of extensive demolition and renovations inside. He said the work includes an atrium in the roof and dramatic views of the city from various vantage points, including a planned rooftop deck.

“From the exterior of the building it's not apparent that there's a lot of work being done, but I confirmed when I walked in lots of folks doing work,” he said. “It's actually impressive as to how much work has been accomplished.”

Core officials could not be reached for comment, but their plans call for a mix of restaurants, shops and office space on the first and second floors of the 13-story building and parking, upscale apartments and a hotel on upper floors.

A restaurant is planned for the top floor, Acklin said.

Reception Hotels and Resorts LLC has secured $14.9 million in private financing arranged by Walker & Dunlop of Bethesda, Md. The company is a subsidiary of Continental Hotels Group, which includes Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo and Crowne Plaza hotels. A Hotel Indigo opened in East Liberty two years ago.

“We're looking to open the hotel early in the second quarter of next year,” said Matthew Shollar of Squirrel Hill, a partner with Reception Hotels.

The Kaufmann brothers founded “The Big Store” at the corner of Smithfield Street and Fifth Avenue in 1877 and the building became one of Pittsburgh's Downtown landmarks. Among other things it was famous for its Christmas window decorations, and generations of Pittsburghers used its ornate brass clock outside as a meeting place.

Core, which benefitted from historic tax credits, is maintaining the clock and restoring other features of the building, including the exterior and large wood frame windows inside, according to Acklin.

“Largely, the historical character of the building is being preserved which is a great thing for Pittsburgh,” he said. “We're cautiously optimistic that the outcome of this building will be good.”

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

Correction: Oct. 10, 2017

This story has been updated to reflect that Even Hotel is set to open next year.

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