Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Residents Rip Office Tower Proposal in Oakland They Say It's Too Big for the Neighborhood

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Residents Rip Office Tower Proposal in Oakland They Say It's Too Big for the Neighborhood

Article excerpt

A proposal to build a 13-story office complex on Forbes Avenue in Oakland came under fire Thursday from community groups and residents.

During a lengthy city zoning board of adjustment hearing, opponents blasted the development as being too tall and detrimental to the character of the neighborhood and the Forbes commercial corridor.

They also maintained the proposal by Wexford Science + Technology could exacerbate already limited parking options in Oakland even though the builder is proposing a 155-space garage as part of its plans.

"This site just seems not to be the appropriate site," said Wanda Wilson, executive director of the Oakland Planning and Development Corp., which has tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a community benefits agreement with Baltimore-based Wexford.

The developer is seeking to build the new complex at 3440 Forbes. An existing building, which houses a CVS store, would be razed to make way for the new development.

Wexford is proposing street-level retail, three floors of parking, and nine floors office and lab space spread over 150,000 to 200,000 square feet of space.

Among its requests, Wexford is seeking a variance to raise the height of the building up to 188.6 feet, far above the maximum of 128 permitted at the site, according to the zoning board agenda.

Opponents, including city council president Bruce Kraus, who represents that part of Oakland, argued that at 188.6 feet, the structure is far too big and not in context with other buildings in that section of Forbes.

At most, the building should be 102 feet high, Ms. Wilson said.

"Really, they're asking for essentially double the height allowed," she said.

Ms. Wilson and others contended that Wexford created its own hardships by selecting a site that was too small for such a massive development.

By contrast, Wexford representatives maintained that the proposed complex isn't much taller than others in that part of the Forbes corridor, pointing to buildings that ranged from 110 feet to 140 feet in height. …

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