|By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh
Post-GazetteMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 09--Two new hotel projects, one Downtown and one on the South Side, are ready to kick into high gear.
After several revisions spurred by complaints from nearby property owners, a proposed 107-room hotel on Fort Pitt Boulevard won approval from the city planning commission Tuesday.
At the same time, the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority is expected to consider a plan Thursday for the construction of a $25.3 million, 134-room hotel at the South Side Works complex.
City planning commission members voted 8-1 to approve the proposal by the Forza Group, a Bridgeville developer, to construct a seven-story hotel at Fort Pitt Boulevard and Cherry Way, next to the Fort Pitt Commons Building.
Plans for the hotel have changed substantially since it was proposed more than a year ago. At that time, the developer sought to build a 12-story, 69-room hotel with a pass-through from Fort Pitt Boulevard.
However, the plan ran into objections from residents and business owners along adjacent First Avenue.
They raised concerns about the hotel's design, building materials and safety issues.
Forza went back to the drawing board twice in an effort to accommodate the concerns, ending up with the revised plan for the seven-story hotel that won approval Tuesday.
"I love what the developers have done with the design. I think it's a huge improvement," said planning commission chair Wrenna Watson, who still lobbied for changes to the top of the facade.
During a hearing before the vote, a handful of people continued to raise issues with aspects of the development, including the lack of a traffic study, the impact of construction on the area, and concerns about the storing of materials and equipment during construction.
But commission members said many of those issues would be addressed in conditions attached to the approval, including review of final traffic and operations information by city staff, and the approval of a construction management plan before a building permit is issued.
Commission member John Valentine said it was time to get the project moving: "A city that stands still goes backwards."
The developer hopes to begin construction this spring and have the hotel completed in 18 months.
At South Side Works, Oxford Concord Sierra Southside Associates L.P. is planning to build a six-story Hyatt Summerfield Suites hotel on South Water Street on a parcel totaling nearly an acre.
The project is also expected to include meeting space, an indoor pool, a fitness center and 79 integral parking spaces. URA board members will consider a request to sell the land to the developer for about $400,000.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.
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