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Landmark buildings for sale

| Saturday, Aug. 4, 2001

Two of Pittsburgh's prominent Downtown office buildings - the Frick Building and former Westinghouse Building - have been put on the market for sale by its local owner.

The Madison Realty Group Inc. said it is seeking buyers for the two well-known buildings, saying it is time to move on to other investments, including opportunities in the Pittsburgh area.

'We look forward to continuing our acquisitions in western Pennsylvania, specifically in our home town,' said Blaise Larkin, the company's chief executive.

The 20-story Frick Building, built in 1902 by industrialist Henry Clay Frick, is a 341,000-square-foot tower located at 437 Grant Street and bordered by Fifth and Forbes avenues. Madison purchased the landmark structure, noted for its decorative lobby and turn-of-the-century architecture, for $24.8 million in 1998.

That same year, the company paid $19 million to buy the 23-story Westinghouse tower, now known as 11 Stanwix Street, from CBS Corp., the successor to Westinghouse Electric Corp. CBS changed the name of the storied local company after it acquired Westinghouse, and moved its headquarters to New York in December 1997.

'We feel there should be strong interest in these buildings because they are high quality, well-leased, well-located and have a history of strong occupancy,' said Jeffrey Ackerman, executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis/Pittsburgh, a local commercial real estate firm.

Ackerman, who is representing Madison in the sales effort, said the target audience includes local private investors as well as major national institutional investors.

He is optimistic about prospects as Pittsburgh properties are attracting investor interest because of relatively strong occupancy and positive market dynamics. Both the Frick and 11 Stanwix buildings are over 90 percent occupied, he noted.

The two largest tenants in the 426,000-square-foot former Westinghouse headquarters are the IBM Corp., which occupies 10 floors, and the Cohen & Grisby law firm, located on three floors. Madison spent $20 million to renovate the structure, which won a top award from the Building Owners and Managers Association in 1999.

Tenants at the Frick Building include a number of prominent law firms, judges and the Allegheny County Courts.

'These are two tremendous assets that we have brought to stabilization and now, as a normal part of our acquisition and development business, we will see these investments and move on...,' said Bernard Reilly, Madison president.

'We continue to look for new opportunities and are currently working on several new projects in this region,' added Bryan Pivirotto, the company's executive vice president.

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