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11 Foster Plaza buildings might be sold soon

| Friday, Aug. 26, 2005

A sale may be near for the remaining 11 buildings at the Foster Plaza office complex in Green Tree, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has learned. The buyer is likely HRPT Properties Trust, a Massachusetts-based real estate investor that has other holdings in this area. HRPT and the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, owner of the complex, declined to comment, but Gregory Schuster, director of brokerage services for Burns & Scalo Real Estate Services Inc., said HRPT is among those who have looked at the complex. "We are aware they have a strong interest in the office park and are actively pursuing their interest," Schuster said. Burns & Scalo teamed last year with Sterling American Property Inc., a New York-based investment fund, to purchase the Foster Plaza 9 office building and 21 acres of land. "We also have a vested interest in the park and look to increase our holdings if the opportunity presents itself," Schuster said.

Offer to save building

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation has notified the City of Pittsburgh it would pay an estimated $33,000 for a new roof on a historic building the city owns at 439 Market St., Downtown, said Cathy McCollum, the foundation's program officer, on Thursday. The organization made the offer because of reports that the four-story structure, built in the 1870s, might be demolished. Putting on a new roof and removing debris would stabilize the building, which is historically important because of its Italianate style, which is a rare design for a commercial building in Pittsburgh, McCollum said. Tom Cox, Pittsburgh's deputy mayor, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Victory Centre vote set

Bass Pro Shops and Tanger Outlets should learn Sept. 13 whether a tax-increment financing plan for the proposed Victory Centre in Washington County will move ahead. South Strabane supervisors are to act that night on the plan to divert property tax revenue the development will create, to pay off bonds for roads, utility lines and other infrastructure. The supervisors already have rezoned about 210 acres that Bass plans to buy abutting Race Track Road, across from The Meadows. The 122 acres for Tanger's planned outlet stores already is zoned commercial. Washington County and the Trinity Area School District already have approved the financing.

Ex-Steeler no broker

The Oklahoma Securities Department has barred former Pittsburgh Steeler Adrian Cooper from being a stockbroker in the state amid accusations he stole money from clients. Cooper has denied wrongdoing. Cooper, 37, came under investigation by regulators last year after investors complained. The Securities Department reported he used investors' funds to pay personal expenses and to pay other investors. Cooper also is being investigated by the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. He played six seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers in the 1990s.

W.Va. OKs gas firm sale

The West Virginia Public Service Commission has approved Allegheny Energy Inc.'s plan to sell the state's largest and third-largest natural gas utilities to investors. The sale is part of a settlement submitted to the PSC in July that outlined the base rates Mountaineer Gas and West Virginia Power Gas customers would pay for natural gas when the two are sold to Mountaineer Gas Holdings, a partnership of IGS Utilities and affiliates of Boston-based ArcLight Capital Partners. The sale is expected to increase the average customer's bill by $2.47 beginning Nov. 1.

Kodak trims film making

Eastman Kodak Co., battling a steep drop in demand for photographic film and paper, is scaling back film manufacturing in China and closing various businesses in Rochester, N.Y., and West Virginia, eliminating about 1,000 jobs. Kodak, which is navigating a tough transition to digital photography, said Thursday it will consolidate North American color photographic paper manufacturing at factories in Windsor, Colo., and Harrow, England, by shutting down an operation in Rochester by the end of October. It said manufacturing of consumer film products will be cut back in Xiamen, China.

Other business news

  • The Pittsburgh region ranks 38th among 158 metropolitan areas in housing affordability, according to a second quarter 2005 survey by the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Index. About 74.6 percent of families in the Pittsburgh metro area, where the median income is $54,900, can afford a new or existing house priced at $115,000, the index said. Buffalo, N.Y., where nearly 90 percent of families earned enough to afford a home, was tops in communities of 500,000 or more.

  • General Motors Corp. will extend its employee-pricing discount plan on select 2005 models until Sept. 30. The world's biggest automaker also plans to apply the discount to select 2006 full-size trucks and sport utility vehicles. The program lets customers buy vehicles at the employee rate. GM was the first of the Big Three to offer employee prices for all consumers in June. GM's sales shot up 41 percent that month.

  • Forever 21, a median-priced women's apparel store, will open its second Pittsburgh area location today in a 7,224-square-foot showroom at 415 Cinema Drive in the SouthSide Works on Pittsburgh's South Side.

  • Pittsburgh-area stocks rose Thursday. The Bloomberg Pittsburgh Index of 65 stocks rose 0.08 to 252.18.

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