Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Developer Sees Demand for Downtown Condos Millcraft Looking at 'Multiple Sites' There and in Other Neighborhoods

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Developer Sees Demand for Downtown Condos Millcraft Looking at 'Multiple Sites' There and in Other Neighborhoods

Article excerpt

With one unit on the market for a cool $6.99 million, at least one local developer thinks it might be time to start building condominiums again Downtown.

Apartments have been going up faster than umbrellas in a rainstorm for much of the past decade, but Lucas Piatt, president and chief operating officer of Millcraft Investments, said he senses a "pent-up demand" for condos and other for-sale units Downtown.

At a developers forum sponsored by the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp. this week, Mr. Piatt cited statistics showing that there were only 34 for-sale residential units available in the Golden Triangle, the Strip District, and parts of Uptown and the lower Hill District.

He found that to be shockingly low. The numbers included condominiums, townhouses and a smattering of single-family houses with prices ranging from $89,000 to $6.99 million for a 6,000- square-foot condo at the Residences at Three PNC Plaza that takes up the entire 19th floor.

"So we do need some more condo projects in Downtown. If someone could deliver those condos in that $250,000 range, we think they would sell like hotcakes all day long. The challenge is, can you do it, can you build it for that?" Mr. Piatt said.

Millcraft entered the Downtown market a decade ago with a condo project, erecting 65 units in its redevelopment of the former Lazarus-Macy's property. But it switched to building apartments in the former G.C. Murphy store and State Office Building redevelopments Downtown.

The developer, in partnership with McKnight Realty Partners, toyed with the idea of building condos as part of the redevelopment of the former Saks Fifth Avenue store but ended up settling on about 100 apartments.

Because of the project complexities and the cost of new high- rise construction, "The condos and their necessary square footage sizes made the required sales prices too high for our comfort level," Mr. Piatt said.

Nonetheless, Millcraft is looking at "multiple sites" for condos, including Downtown and other neighborhoods. While new construction could be difficult because of the costs, an adaptive reuse is "definitely possible," he said. …

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