Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ura Offers to Buy Saks Building Downtown

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ura Offers to Buy Saks Building Downtown

Article excerpt

As upscale retailer Saks Fifth Avenue prepares to close its doors today, the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority is bidding to take control of the building that housed it.

The URA has made an offer to purchase the four-story building, which was put up for sale in January after Saks decided to close the store after more than 60 years Downtown.

It is not known how much the URA offered for the 86,000-square- foot building. The owner, Oliver-Smithfield Joint Venture, has been seeking $5.5 million for the property, which is located on Smithfield Street near Macy's department store.

Yarone Zober, chairman of the URA board and chief of staff to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, had no comment when asked about the offer.

"At that price, I don't know who would buy that building," he said.

Nonetheless, Mr. Zober added, "We're always interested in making good decisions that will help to advance the city's growth."

At one time the city had tossed around the idea of buying the building as part of the effort to persuade Saks to remain Downtown. But Oliver-Smithfield Joint Venture made it clear at the time that it had no interest in selling, said Robert Rubinstein, the URA's director of economic development.

The city thought about owning the building, either long term or temporarily until it could find another buyer, to facilitate the use of New Markets tax credits for use in making improvements for Saks.

"Really, it was just trying to present as many scenarios as possible for the ownership and Saks to consider," Mr. Rubinstein said recently. "We were in problem-solving mode."

Herky Pollock, the CB Richard Ellis executive vice president who is serving as broker for the Saks property, would not comment on whether the city had made an offer for the building.

"There's lots of interest in Saks, both from a leasing and purchasing standpoint," he said. …

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