|By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh
Post-GazetteMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 15, 2011--A Washington County developer plans to break ground on a $76.6 million office and hotel project by midsummer, marking its fourth major redevelopment Downtown.
Lucas Piatt, chief operating officer for Millcraft Industries, said the company hopes to have the Gardens at Market Square completed in the first quarter of 2014. The project, located on the south end of Forbes Avenue between Wood Street and Market Square, will feature 95,000 square feet of office space, a 175-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel, 23,000 square feet of retail space and a 325-space parking garage.
Mr. Piatt said Millcraft hopes to have the office and retail portions open by December 2013 and the hotel by March 2014. He said he already has lined up two tenants to take half the office space, but would not name either one. Millcraft also will be looking for "destination" type retail, as well as entertainment and restaurants, to fill the retail space.
The city Urban Redevelopment Authority board is expected to vote later today to sell seven Forbes Avenue parcels needed for the project to Millcraft for $2.4 million. The URA paid nearly $5.3 million for the properties, but Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, during a tour of the area this morning, said the bargain prices are justified given the value the project will bring to the city.
He said the development will generate about $5 million a year in tax revenue, create jobs, and further enliven the city.
"From our perspective, it's definitely worth the deal the URA made," he said.
Millcraft may also seek tax increment financing and state help in funding the project, which will displace three existing merchants -- the Smithfield Outlet on Forbes, George Aiken's restaurant and The Exchange CD and video game store. The URA hopes to work with the three to find other locations for them Downtown.
Mark Belko: email@example.com
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