Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art Institute Drawn out of Downtown

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Art Institute Drawn out of Downtown

Article excerpt

After 16 years on the Boulevard of the Allies, the Art Institute of Pittsburgh and its students - maybe even the dinosaur that stands guard outside - are headed for the Strip District.

The school, now located at 420 Boulevard of the Allies, will be moving its classrooms to 1400 Penn Ave. starting in April. The Buncher Co.-owned property now houses the Art Institute's online division.

Bob Greenlee, an art institute spokesman, said the decision came about after the school was unable to negotiate a new lease with its landlord, Chicago-based M&J Wilkow, to continue using its current premises.

He said the school negotiated with M&J Wilkow for more than a year to try to reach a deal to stay in the nine-story building Downtown but couldn't come to terms.

"We liked the Boulevard of the Allies. We were there for 16 years. If we had reached the right terms with the landlord, we would have preferred to stay," he said.

Marty Sweeney, M&J Wilkow vice president, could not be reached for comment.

The lease at the Penn Avenue location in the Strip runs through the end of 2019. Pittsburgh-based Education Management Corp., the Art Institute's parent company, has rented space in the building for some time, said Tom Balestrieri, Buncher president and CEO.

In recent years, as EDMC has struggled financially, it has downsized its operations in the Strip and has subleased some space to others, he said.

Mr. Greenlee said the Art Institute believes the new building will be a "very good location" for its students, the majority of whom commute. He said campus enrollment is about 700 students, not counting online.

"The Art Institute of Pittsburgh reviewed a number of other alternatives, but ultimately believes that the new location will provide the best learning experience for students," he said.

While Downtown might offer better transit options for students, the school does not anticipate significant difficulties for them to get to the Strip. …

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