Friday, May 31, 2013

New Development in Findlay/Moon Twp.

A parcel of land near the Pittsburgh International Airport is now going to be named Findlay Crossing.  This development will be across from the Park 'N Fly near the Dick's Headquarters.  This area is set to be for businesses in the area and maybe a retail parking venture.  The property is being developed with three local investors.  You can find out more by checking out bizjournals.

A local partnership is buying a 30-acre parcel of land near the Pittsburgh International Airport on which it plans to develop a 335,000-square-foot office park called Findlay Crossing.

CDR Development LLC reached an agreement of sale a few weeks ago to buy the lot on Flaugherty Run and Clinton Roads near the Dick’s Sporting Goods corporate campus from Atlanta-based Park 'N Fly, an operator of airport parking lots, according to Ron Sofranko, a partner in the firm.

CDR is named from the first initials of the company’s three partners: Charlie Brown, an airport area parking entrepreneur; David Dietrich, a principal of an at-home senior health care services firm; and Sofranko, a restaurateur and consultant who also has developed real estate.

“I think the timing is perfect,” Sofranko said of his partnership’s plans for the site. “We’re excited. It’s a great piece of property.”

Joe Crisafulli, senior director of business development for Park 'N Fly, said his company hasn’t operated a parking lot on its Findlay property in more than five years and the company has opted to focus on its core markets.

“I don’t know any reason why it won’t close,” he said of the sale.

So far, CDR is working on two potential plans for the site.

The first would be to develop about 20 acres into a 335,000-square-foot office campus, with Brown using the remaining 10 acres for a parking operation, Sofranko said. Alternatively, the parking lot could be scrapped for more office space if demand calls for it, Sofranko noted.

Sofranko expects the plan by Brown to use a portion of the property for a parking venture will help finance the project but emphasized there isn't an expectation to build a 200,000-square-foot office building on a speculative basis.

It’s a location that is not only close to the airport and the headquarters for Dick’s Sporting Goods but also a 10-minute drive from the cracker plant proposed by Royal Dutch Shell in nearby Beaver County, added Sofranko.

He expects the sale to close in the next 90 days after a due diligence period and put the value of the land at about $200,000 per acre.

Sofranko said CDR is working to hire a commercial real estate firm to represent Findlay Crossing. An architect has yet to be chosen to design the development. CDR is working with Hampton Engineering.

The announcement of Findlay Crossing marks another major development project in a Parkway West office submarket that has seen a dramatic turnaround from facing double-digit vacancies two years ago to one where it’s challenging to find larger blocks of space.

Dan Adamski, a managing director in the Pittsburgh office of Jones Lang LaSalle, said he is working with several office clients seeking more than 50,000 square feet of space who are finding limited options.

“Right now, the Parkway West has gotten incredibly tight for large blocks of space,” he said. “So the timing is excellent.”

Kim Ford, managing principal for Cresa Pittsburgh, which specializes in tenant representation, sees the Parkway West office market as a selection of offices that are either new or old with little available in the middle in a time when she’s seeing more and more clients sensitive to rising rents in the region.

Rates at Findlay Crossing will be key, she said.

“I think it will depend on what the rental rates are,” For said. “If they can keep the rental rates in the low $20s (per square foot), I think they’ll be successful.”

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Office Spaces Are Opening in the Strip District

There will be new office spaces opening in Strip District.  These spaces are great for tech companies, and are equipped to handle those types of businesses needs.  The space also has a unique touch.  The guitar and music themed offices lead to an interactive music environment that is a highpoint for anyone working there.  Keep reading or check out Pop City for more information.

An office building in the Strip District is getting a rock and roll makeover. Its exterior walls will soon be wrapped in the likeness of a giant, backlit guitar as the building formerly known as 3030 Penn Avenue becomes the Penn A Caster Loft Offices.
Tusk Development bought the 24,000 square-foot building late last year and wanted to give it a new identity. So when co-owner Jim Genstein returned from a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, they were inspired to give it a new guitar-centric theme.

In addition to the exterior changes, an interior lobby has been redeveloped and now features a guitar touchscreen that controls a video wall and streaming music. Lami Grubb Architects is the project architect.

The three-story building was built in the early 1900s as a warehouse and stored salt as well as the horse-driven carriages that drove goods to and from the nearby Allegheny River.

Genstein’s partner Andy Schaer says the office space is ideal for a tech or creative services company. The loft offices feature brick walls and exposed beams, as well as abundant natural light.

The building is wired for any tech company’s needs—including battery backup for uninterrupted power—and could be built-out to meet tenant needs. The site also includes over 100 parking spaces.

The name Penn A Caster is derived from the Fender Telecaster guitar, which has been played by countless musicians including Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, and George Harrison.

Schaer expects the new guitar-clad facade to be complete within the next eight weeks.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Beaver County and New Development

Beaver County will be starting some major development projects over the next year.  There has been an upswing in commercial real estate sold, and there will be more properties developing over the next few years.  Keep reading or click here to learn more about Beaver County.

Beaver County developer Chuck Betters may be under more confidentiality agreements than he can count, but, he could still tell a crowd gathered at Community College of Beaver County about his optimism regarding redevelopment potential of the county.

“I can tell you this, all hell is about to break loose,” he said, noting that he has option agreements with three to four different companies that are all waiting on a decision from Royal Dutch Shell on whether it will build a petrochemical facility in Potter and Center townships.

Betters and other Beaver County leaders were on hand Thursday afternoon to discuss the activity going on in the region in the kick-off for this year’s Corridors of Opportunity event series held by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

This was the first of four events to be held focusing on a county in southwestern Pennsylvania. Future events will look at Washington, Butler and Westmoreland counties. There is complete coverage on Beaver County in the March 22 edition of the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Betters acknowledged that early on Shell was evaluating his property in Aliquippa for the potential ethane cracker before settling on Horsehead’s property as the preferred site and that he was actually relieved his property didn’t make the cut. He is focusing on potential midstream projects.

Though Shell’s final decision still hasn’t been made, Betters and other speakers said there is too much happening surrounding natural gas development in the region for the petrochemical industry not to come to town.

This will lead to rising demand in housing he said and he hopes the county will be able to meet the challenges that an influx of people might bring.

Ed Rae, founder and president of Re/MAX Select Realty said in the last 18 to 24 months he has seen an uptick in activity in his real estate offices. Business was benefiting from the large office developments of Cranberry Woods in nearby Butler County and Southpointe in Washington County but he told the more than 300 gathered at the event that he saw major potential for further demand if there is development of the petrochemical industry.

“I do think we could be sitting on a boom town like we have never seen,” he said.

However, he and others noted that to reach this full potential the county will have to address issues such as creating ammenities to draw in young people and families, building up education infrastructure and adjusting the tax base.

Pat Nardelli, partner at Castlebrook Development agreed with Betters and Rae and added that the reason the county is able to hold these discussions is based on the cooperation within communities.

He noted that even without the potential cracker projects are already underway. He pointed to the successful $20 million sale of a 410,000 square foot spec building in Big Beaver Falls earlier this month and progress on various hospitality projects throughout the county.

“Beaver County has arrived,” he said, though he added it has been a hard sell to get recognition from national lenders. Both Nardelli and Rae said the lending industry will be a major factor in how future developments come online.

Development that comes through increased natural gas activity or the introduction of the petrochemical industry will also require a robust pipeline of workers and Joe Forrester, president of Community College of Beaver County told the crowd he and the region’s other community colleges are working together to ensure the talent will be there.

Specific to the potential petrochemical industry, CCBC is launching an industrial maintenance program in April that is designed so that other related programs can be added. Plus, he noted the school is developing process technician and management degrees that can be used by existing companies such as Nova Chemical and BASF.

Dennis Yablonsky, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, who gave Thursday’s keynote speech, said the downstream development will be biggest opportunity for Beaver County.

It’s an opportunity to attract back large energy consuming companies. But to do this, the region must work together, he said, adding that the conference has been working with local leader to attract industry.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Food or Shopping?

Zeigler suggested the organization is beginning to wonder whether there’s a greater need for retail than more restaurants in Downtown right now considering what’s happened with the market there.Food or Shopping?  That is the question that many developers are facing right now.  Downtown Pittsburgh is booming with developments popping up everywhere.  However, the question that has come up recently is what would perform better downtown.  Many restaurants are coming into Pittsburgh at rapid pace, but are those restaurants going to see customers without shops to go to.  Keep reading to learn more about this question, and what developments are coming to the city.


When it comes to more dining in downtown Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is thinking about stepping away from the table for one would-be restaurant.

This morning, longtime PHLF president Arthur Ziegler told me the organization is reconsidering putting a restaurant into the Thompson building redevelopment just off Market Square in order to see if there’s any opportunities for a retailer in the location.

“We haven’t decided,” said Ziegler. “We are trying to evaluate more food or more retail.”

Zeigler suggested the organization is beginning to wonder whether there’s a greater need for retail than more restaurants in downtown right now considering what’s happened with the market there.

Restaurants are rushing in to downtown these days.

The Pittsburgh office of CBRE reports that 26 new restaurants have opened downtown in the past two years, with 12 more on the way. The pace is simply not the same for incoming stores, even though PHLF is working on a number of buildings on Wood Street it is targeting for use by independent women’s clothing stores.

A short walk from the Thompson building that is part of PHLF’s Market at Fifth development that includes a Heinz Healey Gentlemen’s Apparel store and The Nettleton Shoe Shop, most of Market Square is almost entirely occupied by restaurants right now, with the potential for added seating for outdoor dining serving as more of a natural draw for restaurants than stores.

It’s a very different market than when PHLF first announced its plans for the Thompson building in September 2011, announcing at the time that the $2.2 million renovation, pursued with a $1 million grant from the Allegheny Foundation, was fully expected to be a restaurant, working informally with a Florida-based restaurant management firm.

Ziegler said PHLF is still working with the restaurant group and may still go with the same plan for a two-level restaurant in the building that it did two years ago. He expects a final decision will come in the next few weeks as PHLF finishes adding an elevator and stairs in the building.

Construction is expected to be completing in the upcoming months.
For more information see BizJournal.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New Development Coming To East Liberty

Bakery Square's first phase of development in Pittsburgh.The second phase of Bakery Square is now in development thanks to Walnut Capital Partners.  The Reizenstein School was purchased to create two office buildings totaling 400,000 square feet. This new commercial development is expected to create 1200 jobs.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on Wednesday announced that Shadyside-based Walnut Capital Partners has officially closed on the purchase of the vacant Reizenstein School on a stretch of Penn Avenue that creates a border between the neighborhoods of Larimer and Shadyside.

The final sale of the property to Walnut Capital and its financial partner, RCG Longview Fund, will enable the development team to break ground on the second phase of Bakery Square. The new project consisting of two office buildings totaling 400,000 square feet, and two 175-unit apartment buildings along with townhouses, is expected to be built at a budget of $100 million. The first Bakery Square is across the street.

Demolition is expected to begin soon on the school building and construction is expected to begin on the first apartment building in March.

Financing for the acquisition and demolition was provided by the Employee Real Estate Construction Trust Funds, which leverages building trade pension funding to help create jobs for its membership.

Bakery Square 2.0 is expected to create 1,200 jobs.

For more information see Biz Journal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Developments to Open In Lawrencville

2013 looks to be a promising time for commercial development in the Pittsburgh area.  The new Shops at Doughboy development in Lawrenceville will feature commercial retail space for new businesses. The shopping area received a $250,000 dollar grant to help fund the massive project.

It has been decades since Lawrenceville’s Doughboy Square was a vibrant urban center.  But with a $250,000 grant to the Shops at Doughboy, a planned mixed-use development, redevelopment there has been given another boost.

The Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority last week awarded the community infrastructure and tourism grant to the $7 million, 48,000-square-foot project.

The Shops will be adjacent to the Roberto Clemente Museum at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Butler Street.  Central Real Estate Holdings, a partnership between October Development and Senko Construction, is the developer.

The URA, which has been heavily involved in redevelopment of Doughboy Square, requested the grant from the county.  The funds will be used for site work ahead of construction, which is expected to begin next spring.

The URA’s Paul Svoboda calls the site a “100% corner” that is important not just to Lawrenceville, but to the entire city.  The intersection is a gateway between Lower Lawrenceville and the Strip District.

Though the project has been reviewed by a number of neighborhood organizations, designs and renderings are yet to be finalized.

Because of a slope at the site, parking will be integrated below the Penn Avenue street grade, accessible from the building’s rear.  Retail will front the street, with residential units above.

Svoboda praises the developers for taking an early financial risk in acquiring the site, and for working with local stakeholders to ensure the design is amenable to all parties.

“There’s some risk that they took, but the rewards are going to be big,” Svoboda says.  “Not only for them, but for the whole city.”

Svoboda says recent investments in the square are making good on priorities outlined years ago in blueprints such as the Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan, which called for an intense focus on Doughboy Square.

Shops at Doughboy is building on the momentum of several other projects in the square.  In the 3400 block, the Doughboy Square Townhomes development, which was completed last year, brought five single-family infill homes to the neighborhood.

And at 3431 Butler Street, the planned Doughboy Apartments is a four story, mixed income and mixed use building that includes 39 apartment units and 17,000 square-feet of first-floor commercial space. 

For more information see Pop City.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Development to Open Near Airport

 New developments are expected to be built in the Airport area.  Two complexes alongside a new road are expected to be developed, with more than 240 acres available for more business opportunities. The development will feature more than 360,000 square feet of office space, with possibilities for more in the near future.

A major new tenant signing a lease for two buildings with a development team that expected to build only one for a future tenant to come. A new road opening up more than 240 acres for new development. And the potential to come for another 7,000 acres of land owned by the Airport Authority of Allegheny County.

Such are signs of progress surrounding the Pittsburgh International Airport detailed by three well-established developers in the area and Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald who participated in a panel discussion at the Corridors of Opportunity event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel hosted by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

“This corridor continues to grow and to grow in a very positive way,” Fitzgerald said.

Joining Fitzgerald on the panel were Dick Donley, principal of Chaska Properties and co-general partner in the new Pittsburgh International Business Park, which is developing in partnership with Continental Real Estate Cos.; Bill Hunt, chairman of Downtown-based Elmhurst Group, owner of the Airside Business Park among other airport area properties; and Jerry Bunda, president of Imperial Land Corp., the developer of the Findlay Industrial Park, along with plans for others.

Donley is the newest developer to operate in the airport corridor. His joint venture with Continental Real Estate achieved a major boost in October when it reached a lease with mortgage services company Service Link LP, to occupy two 54,000-square-foot buildings the joint venture has started building. Donley described the development so far, which is working with a ground lease with the Allegheny County Airport Authority, as succeeding well beyond expectations.

With more than $14 million of public investment already invested in the infrastructure, Donley said the project as a whole calls for 360,000 square feet of flex office space.

Bunda is hopeful to see similar results at Findlay Industrial Park. The park has seen recent progress with the extension of its main road, Solar Drive, further into property at the master planned development, which he said will now make newly available more than 240 acres for development.

Hunt, whose company has owned Airside Business Park for some time and has been a developer in the western suburbs for 28 years, noted that the tenant demand in the airport area has gradually become more diversified over the years, improving from the days when US Airways dropped the airport as a hub.

For more information see Biz Journal.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More