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Collectively, New Hotel Projects in Pittsburgh
 Add Up to Almost 1,150 Rooms
By Ron DaParma, The Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 24 -- A report on the Pittsburgh commercial real estate industry gives some insight into the wave of hotel construction Downtown and in nearby neighborhoods.

The year-end 2007 Pittsburgh Real Estate Overall Market Review produced by GVA Oxford describes eight hotel projects planned or under construction in the city, in neighborhoods ranging from Downtown to Oakland, Shadyside and East Liberty.

GVA is the commercial real estate arm of Oxford Development Co.

Collectively, the projects it cites add up to almost 1,150 rooms.

And that even doesn't include the long-planned convention center hotel near the David L. Lawrence Convention Center whose size is in question.

Originally envisioned as having as many as 500 rooms, the number may have to be cut because of rising construction costs, despite pleas by the VisitPittsburgh tourism promotion agency that a reduction could harm efforts to lure conventions to the city.

Other hotel projects continue to move forward, such as the 185-room Fairmont Hotel that is part of PNC Financial Services Group's $192 million Three PNC Plaza project under construction Downtown.

Another project is a 156-room Hilton Garden Inn that Harmar developer Kratsa Properties plans on the former Allegheny County Jail Annex site near the City County Building.

Kratsa is planning three more hotels near Downtown: a Marriott hotel with as many as 142 rooms at the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland; a 115-room SpringHill Suites hotel at the SouthSide Works; and a 180-room Residence Inn by Marriott on the North Shore near PNC Park.

Two other hotels have been proposed by the Doc-Economou development group, a relative newcomer to the Pittsburgh development scene.

One is a 140-room hotel and 23 condos within the SouthSide Works complex. Another is a 120-room hotel in Shadyside that would be part of a mixed-use development the firm hopes to build on property including the site of the Don Allen Auto City franchise.

Finally, a 110-room Marriott Spring Hills Suites Hotel is planned as part of Walnut Capital Partners' Bakery Square development at the former Nabisco plant in East Liberty.

Why do developers keep building new hotels in the city?

According to the report, some believe there is enough demand and a shortage of hotel rooms in the area to fill it.

In addition to attending conventions, people come to town to visit the region's world class medical centers, corporations and research and development facilities, and attend sporting events, the report says.

In addition, the new Majestic Star Casino on the North Shore eventually will add another reason to visit the city, it says.

Real estate notes

--Marketing of the old Otto Milk building in the Strip District as a new condominium development may come soon, with plans to provide units priced from about $170,000 up to $1.4 million, said developer Jack Benoff, president of Philadelphia-based Solara Ventures LLC. The site, at 25th and Smallman streets, contains seven buildings. About 55 to 65 units are planned, including three penthouses and one special penthouse of 3,000 square feet with a 1,000-square-foot roof garden.

--There were 147 building permits, valued at $96.7 million, issued by the city of Pittsburgh's Bureau of Building Inspection during January, including a $70 million permit for an educational/classroom building at Carnegie Mellon University for 4902 Forbes Ave., Oakland.

--Landau Building Co. is constructing additions and renovations to the kitchen and dining room at the Edgeworth Club with completion next month in time for Easter. It recently completed work on a new board room there. Landau also is constructing a new art gallery at Robert Morris University in Moon.

--The Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment will be asked Thursday to approve use of a three-story structure at 5135 Fifth Ave., Shadyside, for 20 residential units and 18 integral parking stalls. Also, 3609 Forbes Oakland Partners LP will seek board approval to use the second floor of a five-story building at 3609 Forbes Ave. for a grocery store and use of a sign, Market on Forbes.

--Construction Industry Evening of Excellence will be held Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m., at the Lexus Club in PNC Park, North Shore. Awards are provided in four categories: Projects over $5 million, Projects under $5 million, Excellence in Craftsmanship and Design Build. Sponsor is the Master Builders Association of Western Pennsylvania.

Transactions

--Fifteen years ago, Joseph Massaro Jr. sold an office building at 4955 Steubenville Pike, Robinson, to a group of investors that included David J. Malone and Bruce E. Haney. This month, Massaro, under JAM Twin Towers LLC, and his wife, Carolyn, under CCM Twin Towers LLC, purchased the 93,000-square-foot office building back from Twin Towers Associates Ltd. for $8.3 million, according to a deed filed in Allegheny County. Massaro built a twin tower to the existing building in the first sale, and the combined towers are 95 percent occupied, he said.

--An office/warehouse building in the 900 block of West North Avenue, North Side, has been sold by Hampton Professional Building to Past Development LLC for $875,000. Hampton's general partners are William G. Braund and Andrew J. Horn, while Paul J. and Stephen B. Neugebaurer were identified as members of Past Development.

--A neighborhood shopping center at 935 Beaver Grade Road, Moon, owned by Blumling & Swartz LLC, was sold to Sharon Center Holdings LP for $900,000. Richard J. Swartz was listed as member and manager of Blumling & Swartz.

Real estate gallery

--Prudential Preferred Realty said these associates joined area offices: Kathy McNeely and Amber Neff, Beaver; Kristin Withers, Bethel Park; Breanne McKee, Butler; Stephanie Lavelle, Greensburg; Abigail Hines, Hampton; Douglas Bryga, Laurel Highlands; Chanel Boyd, North Hills; and Carol Anden, Susan Broyles and Timothy Quiggle, Rostraver.

--RE/MAX Select Realty said Jason A. LeClair was awarded the accredited buyer representation designation by the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council Inc. of the National Association of Realtors. In addition, Amy Myers was awarded an e-PRO technology certification by the National Association of Realtors.

--Prudential Preferred Realty said Ricciuti Construction Inc. was named the builder for Cherry Wood Estates, a home development on Route 981 North in Mt. Pleasant.

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To see more of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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