Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Condo Guy' Jack Benoff to Bring 50 More Units to the Strip

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

'Condo Guy' Jack Benoff to Bring 50 More Units to the Strip

Article excerpt

Jack Benoff still recalls being turned down by financiers who found his idea of building condominiums in the Strip District laughable.

"I was told by two banks that no one would ever buy there," he said.

That was about 100 units ago.

Since being spurned by those banks more than a decade ago, Mr. Benoff has made a name for himself constructing and selling condos in the Strip - about 60 units at the Otto Milk building on Smallman Street and about 40 at Smallman Place across the street.

"I seem to be the condo guy," he said.

Now the Philadelphia developer is back for another encore. Mr. Benoff still likes to prove his critics wrong.

He is planning another 50 or so units in a vacant lot on Penn Avenue near the Savoy restaurant.

"People told me I was crazy coming to the Strip," he said. "I just like the Strip. To me, I just like the diversity. You have offices, restaurants, bars. You have the river [and trails] if you want to walk or hike."

There's another reason Mr. Benoff likes Pittsburgh's Strip District: All of those condos he has built over the years have sold. Buyers have snapped up virtually all of the units at Otto Milk and Smallman Place.

Mr. Benoff, founder and CEO of Solara Ventures, is hoping to replicate that success at Forte Condominiums, as the new development has been dubbed.

The project, expected to cost $15 million to $18 million, will vary in height from four to five stories. Mr. Benoff will be offering one- and two-bedroom condos, although buyers will be able to combine units to add more bedrooms or space.

Condos will range in size from 700 to 1,500 square feet. Prices will run from under $300,000 to $700,000. "I'm really trying to make this as affordable as I can," he said.

Units will feature hardwood floors, ceramic tile, granite or quartz countertops, and stainless steel appliances. …

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