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Equitable commitment may energize North Shore project

| Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2002

Equitable Resources Inc. may become the first major office tenant to commit to one of the new buildings planned between PNC Park and Heinz Field on the North Shore.

Officials of Pittsburgh-based Equitable aren't talking, but local commercial real estate agents say the move is a possibility.

The energy company, parent of Equitable Gas, is seriously weighing overtures being made by Continental Real Estate Cos. of Columbus, Ohio, the firm chosen to develop the property between the two stadiums, agents say. A deal has not yet been finalized.

Continental Chairman Frank Kass said he will not identify potential tenants for the site, although he confirmed he has had negotiations with several companies, including local and outside firms.

Kass said previously that Continental planned to build as much as 700,000 square feet of office space in several office buildings envisioned in an overall plan to develop about 25 acres of North Shore land. The mixed-use project also would include restaurants, entertainment, stores and apartments.

At a meeting sponsored by the Urban Land Institute in October, he said his company was in negotiations with a potential corporate tenant, which he did not identify, for part of that space.

One local real estate agent said Equitable is considering a consolidation of space it now occupies at several area locations, including its headquarters at One Oxford Center, Downtown, where in 1998, Equitable signed a 10-year lease for about 24,000 square feet; and at Allegheny Center, where its People's Gas subsidiary occupies about 57,000 square feet of space.

The company also occupies space in several other locations in the region.

Equitable moved its headquarters to One Oxford Center after it sold its previous headquarters on the Boulevard of the Allies to Education Management Corp., which renovated the building to be the new home for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Equitable spokeswoman Cindy Jergan said the company had no comment.

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