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Hilton Pittsburgh Work to Resume After G-20 Summit;
Funds Secured for Completion

By Thomas Olson, The Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sep. 22, 2009--Construction on the Hilton Pittsburgh Hotel's $25 million renovation could resume soon, the head of money-plagued owner Shubh Hotels said Monday.

"All the construction is going to start after the G-20 summit is completed," said CEO Atul Bisaria, during a telephone interview. "We didn't want construction going on when the summit was going on."

Renovation work stopped May 15 when prime contractor P.J. Dick Inc. walked off the job because it had not been paid. Dick claims Shubh, based in Boca Raton, Fla., owes $317,273.

Bisaria said his company has secured the necessary funds to complete the project, but did not disclose the source. Shubh Chief Operating Officer Harris Mathis said only that the hotel ownership was in the process of being "restructured." Discussions have been going on for about two months.

P.J. Dick's vice president of contract administration, Dale Lostetter, could not be reached.

Meantime yesterday, against a gray, drizzly sky and a deadline, workers installed a giant banner in front of the hotel prominently facing Point State Park to welcome visitors to the Group of 20 economic summit. The banner will cover up unfinished and unsightly construction so that Downtown puts on its best face when the G-20 convenes Thursday.

The colorful banner will stretch around three sides of the building, said Mike Heck, one of three workers of Airborne Promotions, the company that installed the banner. The main section in front of the hotel proclaiming "Pittsburgh Welcomes the World!" is big enough to cover one-third of a football field, the company said.

"It will look somewhat like a continuous banner going around the building, just in four sections," said Heck. As late as Friday, his firm had been partially paid by Shubh for the banner. Airborne officials declined comment yesterday about payment of the balance.

Bisaria said he will meet with P.J. Dick and other contractors next week to prepare a construction schedule to finish the job. He did not set a time table.

About 80 percent of the Hilton's structural steel has been erected, said architect Steve Berry, of Youngstown, Ohio. It would take at least six months to put up the other 20 percent, plus pour concrete, put up metal studs, install the fascia and glass curtain wall, and complete mechanical, electrical and plumbing work, he estimated.

Berry said he is owed about $318,000 by Shubh for his Hilton-related design and specification plans. He withdrew his plans from city building officials and would have to resubmit them for work to resume, said Berry.

Thomas Olson can be reached via e-mail or at 412-320-7854.


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