URA okays sale

URA okays sale of Point Breeze tech park for redevelopment

The board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh voted Thursday to sell Lexington Technology Park.

The board entered into a contract to sell the two-building, 310,000-square-foot park in North Point Breeze to an affiliate of ICON Development, which plans to use it as part of a larger commercial redevelopment with other property it already owns.

“This is the thing that really starts to move this plan forward,” said Jason Lardo, principal of ICON, after the URA board vote.

The site to being sold is 16.5 acres near the Homewood Station on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway. The sale, for $3.275 million, is pending a final board vote.

ICON, which is affiliated with a construction firm, plans an adaptive reuse strategy for the property at an estimated cost of $21.6 million, with the renovations to include new windows, a new entry, and a publicly accessible cafe, among other upgrades.

ICON is working on a joint venture with Columbus-based KBK Enterprises that will also include a residential component. The residential proposal calls for 125 apartments and 25 townhouses for sale, with 50 of the rentals to be designated affordable.

ICON’s plan is to include the property into its plans for a larger innovation district. Neighboring properties ICON already owns include a former MSA property of more than 100,000 square feet at 7502 Thomas Blvd., the former Haber-Meade building, a similar early 20th-century industrial building that totals 200,000 square feet on six stories, and the Factory building on Penn Avenue that’s home to the East End Food Co-op.

Expecting the full project to take a number of years and be built out in phases, Lardo said the larger project, as yet unnamed, will offer space of all kinds for lease on flexible terms.

The project is expected to offer traditional office space for technology, healthcare, and professional services firms; tenants in light manufacturing, makers, and artists in need of studio space will also be accommodated, along with some retail, and incubators for food and wholesale, added Lardo.

“This is the only place in the city where you can really do this,” said Lardo, who is also principal of Cube Creative Space, perhaps the most prominent space of which is located in East Liberty.

While it pushed forward with the Point Breeze redevelopment, the URA board also voted to push forward on recovering a new plan for remaining parcels in the Garden Theater block on the North Side as the authority completes the demolition of three buildings previously to be restored and renovated but were deemed beyond saving due to deterioration.

The board voted to approve an amended plan for the site with its established developer, TREK Development Group, which lost a court challenge to its previous plan to build an eight-story apartment building that two neighbors protested out of density concerns

The URA will now enter a contract to sell the remaining plots to TREK to incorporate into a larger site on which the firm proposes to build a 63-unit apartment development.

John Ginocchi, an executive vice presidenvt for TREK, said the new plan is still in its early stages, with no architect chosen for it yet.

He pledged TREK plans to go forward with a new plan after the firm has racked up significant expenses and legal bills on the last one.

“We have spent a lot of money (invested), approximately $400,000, trying to make the other deal work,” he told the board.

In other matters:

  • URA Executive Director Robert Rubinstein reported the authority had closed on its lease agreement of the Pennsylvania Railroad Fruit Auction & Sales terminal building on Smallman Street to Chicago-based McCaffery Interests, allowing the firm to move forward in redeveloping the property.
  • The URA board voted to approve a host of measures and to execute a deed to sell an assemblage of properties on the North Shore to Light of Life Mission for the construction of a new shelter.
  • The board also voted to approve a $50,000 grant to the Hill District Community Development Corporation to enable it to complete final renovations of a 1,400-square-foot portion of the New Granada Theater redevelopment plan. The funding is expected to enable the group to open the first portion of the building this summer to be used as an incubator for entrepreneurs.

original article on bizjournals.com

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