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Try Try Again - Urban Redevelopment Authority Makes Another Try
for Hotel in South Oakland, Pennsylvania

Attempts at Securing a Developer to Build a Hotel at the
Pittsburgh Technology Center Began in Late 2007

By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 13, 2013--If at first you don't succeed, try and try again.

That seems to be the city Urban Redevelopment Authority's approach in trying to secure a builder for a hotel at the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland.

URA board members are expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to enter into 90 days of exclusive negotiations with PTC Lodging LP to build a 135-room hotel on center property at Second Avenue and Bates Street. The URA is turning to PTC after a deal with Harmar-based Kratsa Properties to build a 142-room hotel at the site fell through.

Also on Thursday, the URA board will consider hiring a consultant to study a possible fifth parking garage at the SouthSide Works complex on the South Side in support of a new apartment development; a plan to build six single-family homes on the Hill District-Uptown border; and a proposal for a 52-unit residential building in East Liberty at the site of the former East Mall Apartments.

The URA has been trying to secure a developer to build a hotel at the Pittsburgh Technology Center since late 2007. Back then, it reached an agreement with Kratsa to build a $15 million, five- to six-story hotel on the site, to open in fall 2009.

But Kratsa, trying to build in the worst of the country's financial meltdown and recession, was unable to get the project off the ground and the URA eventually rescinded the firm's rights to the development.

Nonetheless, the URA still believes a hotel is right for the location.

"We've always had a strong preference for a hotel at that site," said Kyra Straussman, URA director of real estate. "Kratsa was always a big believer in a hotel at the site. They just couldn't pull it off at the time."

PTC will have 90 days to come up with a brand for the hotel and to present a formal proposal for its construction. The $14.2 million project is expected to consist of five stories, with 76,100 square feet of space and an environmentally friendly design. PTC is made up of Hotel D2 Services Group of Pittsburgh and Millcraft Hospitality, which will operate the hotel.

Marcus Piatt, Millcraft president, said the team still has not settled on a flag but is exploring a possible Hilton brand. The hotel most likely will be limited service, with a bistro to serve guests and technology center employees.

The SouthSide Works apartment development would be located at Sidney and 26th streets. The number of units is not known.

It would mark first rental project to be done since the URA reached a $500,000 settlement with Nationwide Realty Investors last year over a long-standing restriction that had prevented apartments from being built at SouthSide Works. The URA is planning to pay Walker Parking Consultants $15,000 to determine the appropriate number of spaces for a fifth garage.

Trek Development Group, meanwhile, is proposing six for-sale homes that would front Reed, Miller, Colwell and Vine streets near the Consol Energy Center. In all, 19 homes are planned in the vicinity. The URA board will consider entering into six months of negotiations with Trek for the sale of six properties needed for the development.

And in East Liberty, East Liberty South Limited Partnership and TCB East Liberty South Commercial are planning 30 one-bedroom and 22 two-bedroom residential units at 5800 Penn Avenue. Of the units, 32 will be affordable to households at or below 60 percent of the median income.

Mark Belko: or 412-263-1262.


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