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Plan C draws some interest as developers line up for Downtown redo

Saturday, July 28, 2001

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Eight developers — three local and five from out of town — have expressed interest in doing some or all of the retail-residential-entertainment makeover of the rundown Fifth and Forbes area of Downtown.

The names of the development firms were released yesterday by Mayor Tom Murphy’s Plan C Task Force, which he named last December after dropping his previous, controversial plan for a $521 million redevelopment of Fifth and Forbes by Urban Retail Properties of Chicago.

The Fifth and Forbes task force is close to recommending a revitalization plan to be implemented in the important retail corridor. The 13-member group has held several months of public hearings and has received resumes and qualifications from interested developers.

“We are delighted by the strong interest we have received both locally and nationally” in the Fifth and Forbes redevelopment, said city Planning Director Susan Golomb.

Such interest, she said, shows that the task force is preparing “a solid, exciting plan that private firms believe will be profitable for them and successful for the city.”

Local firms that want to take part are:

Lincoln Property Co., whose office is in Bethel Park, is willing to develop housing as part of the renewal plan. Lincoln has done several housing developments in the Pittsburgh area, including upscale apartments on the North Shore just over the Ninth Street Bridge.

No Wall Productions, headed by Eve Picker of Friendship, who has converted several older Downtown buildings into condominiums or loft-style housing.

Serket, a design studio based in Carnegie, which is interested in retail and entertainment development in the Fifth-Forbes corridor.

The five out-of-town developers who want to take part in the work include:

Continental Real Estate, with its partner, Nationwide Realty Investors, both of Columbus, Ohio, which is doing the massive Waterfront retail/housing project in Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall and the housing portion of the South Side Works redevelopment.

Downtown Works, a division of the Kravco Co., based in King of Prussia, near Philadelphia. Kravco has done the $250 million redevelopment of the sprawling King of Prussia Mall, which includes sought-after retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. Getting a Nordstrom store was a key part of Murphy’s plan that died late last year.

Kramont Realty Trust of Plymouth Meeting, Pa., is interested only in the retail leasing portion of the overall plan. It has done retail redevelopment projects in Chester, Pa., as well as north Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J.

Hunter Interests, an urban economics, finance and real estate development firm from Annapolis, Md.

The Palladium Co., a company based in New York City that does mixed-use, retail/office/residential projects.

Arthur Ziegler, president of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and a member of the Plan C task force, said the group will review the previous work of each firm and then visit sites in cities where renewal projects have been completed.

“We want to see if what they’ve done previously fits into our new vision of what the Fifth and Forbes area needs to be,” he said.

The on-site research is scheduled to be finished by mid-September. Golomb said a short list of development-manager firms would then be interviewed, with a firm or firms chosen by the end of September.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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