Friday, September 7, 2012

Philadelphia developer gaining presence in Downtown Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

A Philadelphia developer is fast becoming one of Downtown's largest property owners.

PMC Property Group added to its collection of holdings Downtown this week by buying a 30,000-square-foot building at 908 Penn Ave. for $525,000, according to Allegheny County real estate records.

With the purchase, PMC now owns or is close to acquiring more than 1 million square feet of real estate in the Golden Triangle. If, as expected, it secures the 195,000-square-foot James Reed Building on Sixth Avenue in a bankruptcy sale next week, the number jumps to 1.2 million square feet.

That would be more in terms of square footage than is owned by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Point Park University or Millcraft Industries, the Washington County developer that bought the Lazarus-Macy's building, the G.C. Murphy building and the State Office Building.

But it still pales in comparison to the 2.5 million square feet of space PNC Financial Services Group holds Downtown.

PMC's latest acquisition is located near the 117-unit Penn Garrison apartment complex, which the developer also owns and is currently expanding by adding 33 units.

Jerold Novick, PMC executive vice president, said the six-story 908 Penn office building also will be converted into apartments, perhaps 30 to 35 units in all, with some potential street-level retail use.

PMC could count the vacant nine-story James Reed Building among its holdings by the end of the day Tuesday. It has bid $5.5 million to acquire the nine-story structure, built in 1902, in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles. Unless someone else submits a higher bid Tuesday, the property will be PMC's.

It also intends to convert that office building, once the home of the Reed Smith law firm, into residential space.

Asked about PMC's buying spree Downtown, Mr. Novick said, "We like Pittsburgh. We like the rental demographics and we look for opportunities."

PMC has more than 3,000 residential units in its hometown of Philadelphia. Last year, PMC's Louise Giordano said the developer was "looking to do the same" in Pittsburgh.

Currently, PMC has more than 700 units completed, under development, or planned Downtown. On its website, PMC said it specializes it finding under-utilized or overlooked urban properties in the East Coast corridor and transforming them into "thriving rental communities and commercial spaces."

Downtown, PMC also has reached an agreement with Alco Parking president Merrill Stabile to acquire the 10-story Jackman Building at 526 Penn Ave., with plans to turn the upper floors into apartments.

In March, it paid $7 million to buy the 30-story Regional Enterprise Tower, the former Alcoa headquarters. It plans to convert the upper floors into apartments, more than 200 units in all.

It also has reached a deal with the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority to buy the 13-story John P. Robin Civic Building on Ross Street for $1 million. Toward that end, PMC, in November, was given a year of exclusive negotiations to secure the property, where it is planning 100 residential units and possible ground-level commercial space.

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