Menu Contact/Location

Downtown’s EQT Plaza No Longer on the Block

Recapitalization’ shinier than selling
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The owner of one Downtown building has removed its “for sale” sign.

Rather than sell, New York-based Blackstone Group has decided to retain ownership of EQT Plaza, formerly known as Dominion Tower, and refinance its debt.

“They just decided with the way the markets are today, a recapitalization was a better option for them,” said Gerard Sansosti, executive managing director of HFF Inc. in Pittsburgh, which was marketing the building for sale.

Aaron Stauber, president of New York-based Rugby Realty, which has extensive property holdings in Pittsburgh, said refinancing was an attractive option for building owners these days because of very low interest rates. One advantage to refinancing rather than selling, he noted, is that the owner does not have to pay capital gains taxes.

HFF had announced in February that it was putting the 32-story office building, now the headquarters of EQT Corp., up for sale on behalf of Blackstone, which bought it for $45 million through a sheriff’s sale in 2005.

While HFF had received offers for the 23-year-old building, located on Liberty Avenue, Mr. Sansosti said Blackstone ultimately decided not to sell.

“I think it’s going to be off the market for a while,” he said.

As of February, the 615,942-square-foot office tower was about 96 percent leased. EQT moved into the building from the North Shore last year.

EQT Plaza was one of a handful of high-profile buildings Downtown to go up for sale this year, sparking a wave of publicity and even inquiries from city hall about the reasons for the moves.

Others on the market include the landmark Macy’s department store (formerly Kaufmann’s); the four-building Gateway Center complex, the linchpin of the city’s first renaissance; the Henry W. Oliver Building; the Regional Enterprise Tower, formerly the Alcoa Building; and American Red Cross of Southwestern Pennsylvania building, Boulevard of the Allies.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633