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Jonboy1983 Jan 10, 2012 2:17 PM

I saw this in the Post-Gazette. I didn't even hear of this before I read the article.

http://www.postgazette.com/pg/12010/1202445-28.stm

Quote:

Development near arena falls through
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


A plan to convert two buildings across from the Consol Energy Center into a complex featuring a restaurant, rooftop lounge and loft apartments has fizzled out.

The proposed developer, Blue Line Capital, has decided not to pursue the project, which would have been the first major redevelopment near Consol since it opened in 2010.

"We're back to square one pretty much," said Howard Elinoff, the Uniforms USA owner who has been trying to interest developers in the concept. The properties are part of the current Uniforms USA complex on Fifth Avenue in Uptown.

Blue Line envisioned a two-building development that included a ground-level sports bar, two floors of loft apartments and a huge rooftop lounge at an estimated cost of $3 million to $3.5 million.

But Mark Baranowski, the owner of North Park Lounge who was a partner in the effort, said the venture fell victim to financing issues, the cost of the rooftop deck and concerns about the viability of the location.

The cost of converting the roof into a deck turned out to be higher than he and partner Kevin Nord, president of Pro Towels Etc., had anticipated. That, in turn, complicated the financing.

"To me, the rooftop would have been something really special," Mr. Baranowski said. "That would have been something really unique to draw people to come down to that location." At the same time, he said he had some apprehension about the site.

While the restaurant and lounge most likely would do well on days when there were hockey games or other events at Consol, he had concerns about the off nights. He questioned whether there would be enough business to justify the large investment.

Mr. Nord could not be reached for comment.

Now that the deal has fallen through, Mr. Elinoff said he hopes to market the project, locally and perhaps nationally, to other restaurateurs and developers. He said he plans to hire a real estate professional to assist him.

Mr. Elinoff said he had talked to ex-Penguins and others associated with the hockey team about the venture. Trying to get a current player to invest in the venture "might be the next step," he said.

So far, however, he hasn't been able to find any takers.

"It's a frustrating thing because it's great for the area," he said of the project. "For this area, it was the seed that's needed."
I think this development would have been awesom for the city, but I, too, have (had) hang-ups about the site. Given the proposed use which included a roof top lounge, I think a more viable location would have been either in South Side or the Strip, neighborhoods wth ample business activity as well as night life.

I would love for this project to re-surface tho; just not for this particular location...

It would have been nice to see something come together near Consol Energy Center. Perhaps it would have stirred interest in redeveloping the Mellon Arena site...

Jonboy1983 Jan 10, 2012 3:17 PM

Found another article; this one from the Tribune Review regarding test runs on the 1.2-mile T extension to the North Shore.


Port Authority begins running cars through North Shore Connector
By Tom Fontaine, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW


Quote:

For the first time, Port Authority of Allegheny County's $523.4 million North Shore Connector project is really moving.

The transit agency began running rail cars on the 1.2-mile extension of its T light-rail system about two weeks ago — albeit, only at 5 mph.

"The fact that we're now testing the system and not really building any more truly is a milestone," Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said on Monday. "We're looking forward to the start of service, but testing has really just begun."

The project began five years ago and cost about $88 million more than originally expected.

Ritchie said crews must complete more than 1,100 tests before the system can begin operating. Port Authority is on pace to meet the planned March 25 start date, Ritchie said.

Economist Jake Haulk, executive director of the Castle Shannon-based Allegheny Institute on Public Policy, said the testing is critical.

"They have got to make sure that they are not going to have power outages or anything that could stop those trains under the river. You have a couple of episodes like that, and it will scare away riders," Haulk said.

Making practice runs on the light-rail line that extends between the North Shore and Downtown via tunnels that are up to 70 feet below the surface of the Allegheny River is just a small part of the testing.

"It's more than just running a car up and down the track," Ritchie said.

Last month, crews began testing copper and fiber optic lines that will carry information between T cars and the agency's operations center and police dispatch center, as well as overhead cables that will power the cars.

Crews are checking all signals along tracks, electronic signs and the public address system, phones, surveillance cameras, security features such as alarms and emergency lighting, and all other ventilation and electrical work.

Crews tested to make sure T cars could run through the system without ripping down wires or clipping walls or ceilings anywhere. To do the testing, crews used metal pipes to build a frame with the same dimensions as a T car onto a rail car and pulled the car along the extension.

"It was like an erector set," Ritchie said of the makeshift T car.

As for actual train testing, Ritchie said it has been performed at night because rail personnel are busy operating T service in Downtown and the South Hills during the day, Ritchie said.

The test trains, to this point, have been running at 5 mph or less. T trains can reach speeds of 35 mph, but typically travel between 10 and 25 mph on slower portions such as the subway beneath Downtown.

The project initially was to cost $435 million, but officials revised estimates several times when construction bids came in higher or lower than anticipated. The $523.4 million estimate has held for the past year.

The project received $62 million in federal stimulus funding, and a federal grant program is covering 80 percent of the remaining costs. The state committed about $77 million, and Allegheny County is responsible for about $15 million.

Haulk, who has been critical of the project, said he remains curious to see how riders — including potential newcomers to the T — will respond to the service.

"(Port Authority officials) really need to gin up a lot of riders to come close to making this a useful addition to the region's transportation system," Haulk said. "They have a lot invested, both in terms of money and political capital. They have to do everything they can to make it look like it was a good investment."
Want this to prove to be a good investment? Hope that it spurs development on the North Side, as I doubt too many people will use it on a regular basis. There really is no major commercial use on the Northside other than Allegheny Center, and that is a rather small complex when you think about it. North Side Station (near PNC Park) is supposed to serve Allegheny Center, but it's 2 long blocks over to Federal Street and then up across South Commons. To me, it seems like a hike...

I know that initially it really wasn't supposed to serve the North Hills, but I do think that an extension there is necessary, especially along the McKnight Road corridor up through Ross Park. I know it would cost several billion dollars to do now, but it would be something worth pursuing. How much more cost effective would it be to build BRT HOV lanes in this part of the region? You would need ROW secured along US 19 as I don't think it would really be worth it just to run buses along I-279 and US 19...

glowrock Jan 10, 2012 3:24 PM

The best place for an extension of LRT is going to be to the airport, period. Make it an express service, perhaps only a couple of stops would be needed. It would automatically be a popular service due to the thousands of people who travel between downtown and the airport daily, even with the airport's current relatively low level of overall service.

BRT extensions should be put out as far as Monroeville on the east and Cranberry/Wexford on the north.

Aaron (Glowrock)

TBone7281 Jan 10, 2012 4:11 PM

Renderings of the new Station Square stadium have been released:

http://www.wtae.com/sports/30170648/detail.html

An additional article: http://www.wpxi.com/news/30175984/detail.html

Quote:

The team is planning to open a new 3,500-seat stadium this summer in Station Square.
The stadium will be located partly where the Trib Total Media Amphitheater sits and partly on the parking lot between the amphitheater and the Gateway Clipper, according to Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.
The amphitheater will be demolished or moved, the Trib reported.

Jonboy1983 Jan 10, 2012 4:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5544035)
The best place for an extension of LRT is going to be to the airport, period. Make it an express service, perhaps only a couple of stops would be needed. It would automatically be a popular service due to the thousands of people who travel between downtown and the airport daily, even with the airport's current relatively low level of overall service.

BRT extensions should be put out as far as Monroeville on the east and Cranberry/Wexford on the north.

Aaron (Glowrock)

Going out along the airport corridor, hopefully they'd have an allignment that would pass right along the parkway through Robinson including stops at either the Giant Eagle Market District (I forget what that development is called there) or Robinson Towne Center. That whole area is burgeoning.

Perhaps they could build a BRT lane on I-376 from Swissvale to Monroeville. Isn't the current terminus of the East Busway at Swissvale?

http://www.portauthority.org/PAAC/Po...es/NSCMap1.jpg

:previous: Extending this to the airport is pretty much a given. That was their intention from the start, build this connector and then extend it to the Airport. Apparently there was some intention of extending the LRT to the north of North Side Station, as the pink arrow suggests...

Gilamonster Jan 10, 2012 10:30 PM

I like the idea of the multi-use stadium on the western lot of station square. Hopefully it looks decent and makes it near the 5000 seat capacity that the initial articles have mentioned.

BrianTH Jan 10, 2012 10:37 PM

Extending the T from the NSC to PIT is very unlikely to happen in the conceivable future.

That notion originated as a rationalization for rerouting the NSC from the North Side to along the North Shore, the true motive for which was to benefit the stakeholders in developing the North Shore. Such a notion makes little inherent sense, among other reasons because:

(1) the NSC is on the wrong side of the Ohio;

(2) the T is the wrong rail technology to use for an airport express;

(3) the airport isn't busy enough to support the massive investment it would take (note there are no existing rail lines to or even particularly near the airport);

(4) far more cost-effective and just as fast or faster would be to keep upgrading the express bus service to the airport.

Fortunately, $15 million in local funding for the NSC as it is will be money well spent. Although I would prefer to have seen the state/federal portion spent on different transit projects in the area, the reality is if they hadn't been spent on the NSC, they might not have been spent anywhere in the area at all.

BrianTH Jan 10, 2012 10:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gilamonster (Post 5544643)
I like the idea of the multi-use stadium on the western lot of station square. Hopefully it looks decent and makes it near the 5000 seat capacity that the initial articles have mentioned.

It is going to be 3500, but on the plus side has some swank features:

http://www.sportsvuesoccer.com/image...gh_stadium.jpg

http://www.riverhounds.com/

http://uslpro.uslsoccer.com/home/589757.html

Quote:

The stadium will operate year-round and host games and tournaments in soccer, football, lacrosse, rugby, and softball for youth, high school, college and pro teams, but will only have permanent field markings for soccer. It will also maintain the location as an outdoor venue for concerts and community events to replace an outdoor amphitheater that has operated on the site for years. . . . The stadium will seat approximately 3,500 individuals on the south and east sides of the field. The north side of the field will remain open to the bike trail running parallel to the river as well as the City, which will create a breathtaking backdrop for the main event. . . . On the west end of the field, a three-level building will operate as the main entrance to the stadium. Visitor amenities such as the ticket box office, a fan store, and bar/grille will occupy the first level of the building. Team locker rooms and a glass enclosed training room will also be located on this level, allowing for fans to interact with players before the games. Sixteen (16) corporate suites will be located on the second level with seating for approximately 12 guests in each suite. A private concession area will be located on this level, providing an elaborate menu exclusive to guests of the suites. A stadium conference center will be located on the second floor, in the northwest corner of the building. The conference area will be glass enclosed with an outdoor terrace, opening the room up to both the stadium and City views. The third level of the main building is slated to be a rooftop patio open to all guests.

Gilamonster Jan 10, 2012 10:51 PM

Let the race to the naming rights begin! I imagine the new stadium will be a boost to Riverhound attendance at least in the first year of the new digs.

BrianTH Jan 11, 2012 12:48 AM

I can't be the only parent with a soccer-playing kid who is thinking this could be a great outing.

glowrock Jan 11, 2012 1:30 AM

I'm not a huge fan of something like a small-scale soccer stadium on such prime riverfront real estate, but it's a hell of a lot better than the current ampitheater. Sounds like something that could be very good for Station Square, it will certainly bring in some new people to the area!

As for transit out to the airport, I would be content with a legitimate express bus service. But the buses need to be the type with lots of storage space under the passenger compartment. Can't be a standard city bus, that would simply be insanity!

Aaron (Glowrock)

Jonboy1983 Jan 11, 2012 2:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5544879)
I'm not a huge fan of something like a small-scale soccer stadium on such prime riverfront real estate, but it's a hell of a lot better than the current ampitheater. Sounds like something that could be very good for Station Square, it will certainly bring in some new people to the area!

As for transit out to the airport, I would be content with a legitimate express bus service. But the buses need to be the type with lots of storage space under the passenger compartment. Can't be a standard city bus, that would simply be insanity!

Aaron (Glowrock)

I think I can agree on both counts. Come to think of it, call me crazy but I think I'd be in favor of express bus service versus LRT. I remember; I was on Sound Transit's LRT out in Seattle and it was a hastle lugging large suitcases around. Plus, where it was located, it was a trek to get from the terminal facility to the other end of the parking garage to hop on the LRT line. There wasn't even a moving walkway or anything. And, the signage was rather poor. Of course, none of that has to do with the fact that the light rail cars had no baggage capacity...

Now about the stadium, I, too, have some mixed views. On one hand it is still something to bring people down to Station Square. However, as you also stated, it's on prime riverfront real estate. I guess it's still too risky to build low-to-midrise high density residential (4 to 8 stories) in spite of it being the best use of that land...

PITairport Jan 11, 2012 4:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5544035)
The best place for an extension of LRT is going to be to the airport, period. Make it an express service, perhaps only a couple of stops would be needed. It would automatically be a popular service due to the thousands of people who travel between downtown and the airport daily, even with the airport's current relatively low level of overall service.

On average, about 11,000 people depart PIT daily. That's from the entire catchment area, of which downtown is only a tiny fraction. Then, of the tiny portion using the airport from downtown, you will still have people taking cabs, hotel shuttles, etc.

The amount of users using light rail from downtown to the airport would not nearly be enough for a dedicated express service. However, with more stops along the way, the line becomes more of a commuter line while at the same time taps more of the airport's catchment area. This I think would be feasible.

However, an airport line would ideally have been designed from the Station Square station out along the Ohio river then towards Robinson. That would have involved no river crossings. To use the NSC for an airport line would need another river crossing. Better to use that line for the I-279/Rt. 19 corridor.

Captain Crash Jan 11, 2012 4:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Gilamonster (Post 5544684)
Let the race to the naming rights begin! I imagine the new stadium will be a boost to Riverhound attendance at least in the first year of the new digs.

They already announced the naming rights belong to Highmark.

Private Dick Jan 11, 2012 6:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by glowrock (Post 5544879)
I'm not a huge fan of something like a small-scale soccer stadium on such prime riverfront real estate, but it's a hell of a lot better than the current ampitheater. Sounds like something that could be very good for Station Square, it will certainly bring in some new people to the area!

Aaron (Glowrock)

I think that this is a puzzling use of prime riverfront real estate. Sure, it's better than a parking lot "amphitheater", but I don't see how a field and bleachers for a minor league soccer team and women's football team makes for a good use of the land -- especially when there is the newly-renovated South Stadium just blocks away, which seats probably 3x as many as this proposed venue. Weird.

edncc1701d Jan 11, 2012 1:50 PM

City approves plan for new PNC tower
 
City approves plan for new PNC tower
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The city planning commission cleared the way Tuesday for construction of Downtown's newest skyscraper.

Members voted unanimously to approve plans for the Tower at PNC Plaza, the 33-story glass office building that will serve as the headquarters for PNC Financial Services Group.

"It's a welcome addition to our skyline," said Page Thomas, a planning commission member, before casting his vote.

PNC is billing the $400 million complex, to be built on Wood Street between Forbes and Fifth avenues, as the "greenest skyrise in the world," one that will exceed the top standards for sustainable design.

Gary Saulson, PNC's director of corporate real estate, told planning commission members that the solar chimney to be built into the skyscraper will be the first in new construction in North America.

The chimney will work in conjunction with a diamond-shaped solar heat collector at the very top of the tower that will absorb sunlight and help draw air through the structure. Facilitating the exchange will be "pop out" windows that will open to allow air into the building to keep it cool.

In order to back up its green claims, PNC plans to publish employee evaluations of the office tower as well as the operating costs and energy results relating to the building's performance, Mr. Saulson said.

The goal, he noted, "is to prove that we did what we said we would do."

"The building is very transparent, and we want the process to be very transparent," he said.

PNC plans to begin deconstruction of existing buildings on the east side of Wood and parts of Forbes and Fifth by March. The new building should be rising from the ground in 15 months. Completion is scheduled for June 1, 2015.

The new headquarters will feature more than 800,000 square feet of space and house some 3,000 employees. There will be three levels of underground parking for 136 vehicles and as many as 195 bicycles.

PNC also plans to create five six-story "neighborhoods" within the building to make it feel more like a campus and to help spur interaction among employees. There also will be two patios, one directly off an auditorium in the lobby and another -- filled with plants, flowers and other vegetation -- directly above it.

Also Tuesday, commission members were briefed on plans to restore facades at 254 and 256 Fifth and 445 Wood directly across from the new skyscraper.

All three buildings will get new windows and new storefronts. A canopy will be restored to the Wood building, now home to Kashi Jewelers. The owner eventually hopes to use the upper floors of the buildings for 24 to 30 apartment units.

Another building, at 435 Market St., also will get a new storefront and awning and other improvements. The work is part of a new program to help Downtown property owners make improvements to facades and upper floors.
Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.
First published on January 11, 2012 at 12:00 am

Read more: http://www.postgazette.com/pg/12011/...#ixzz1j9opLIgH

themaguffin Jan 11, 2012 4:04 PM

Is there a city that likes to waste as much prime river front real estate as Pittsburgh. Seriously, it's a game on how to waste space the most and in the worst way.

330to216 Jan 11, 2012 6:06 PM

^ We feel your pain up here in Cleveland...

BrianTH Jan 11, 2012 6:23 PM

Of course it is a somewhat challenging location given the narrowing gap between Carson and the riverfront railway. That said, I don't see a $7 million stadium necessarily being the final long-term use of that parcel--if and when that parcel is actually needed for higher-value development, that wouldn't be much of a sunk cost to write off.

Given that analysis, this seem like a positive, albeit perhaps temporary, step forward. I certainly think it will improve the aesthetics from the riverfront trail, Downtown, Point Park, and the North Shore, and it may also be a useful and complementary venue within the overall complex of venues around the Point.

GRsupercity Jan 11, 2012 6:39 PM

I cant find a rendering


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