Local

Mystery Buyer Purchases Wood Street Block

By: Jon Delano
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Could another major development be happening in the Fifth and Forbes corridor downtown?

City officials say it appears that someone is purchasing most of the property along one block of Wood Street.

However, nobody knows who the buyer is or what the likely development could be.

“Lots of items. Check this out. These lighters are also flashlights. And they’re refillable,” John Vazquez shouts out to eager customers.

At his shop, Black and Gold Forever, Vazquez hawks all things Pittsburgh at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Wood Street.

But the building was just sold to a mystery buyer, who seems to be buying up most of the buildings along Wood Street between Fifth Avenue and Forbes Avenue.

Vazquez knows change is coming.

“This is a great location and we’re going to hate to leave here,” Vazquez said.

But how quickly things will change is unknown.

Next door at the iconic Eastern Wigs, the new shop owners have a lengthy lease.

“Three years now, so it will be over in 2013,” says Meeyeon Sunwoo.

KDKA money editor Jon Delano: “So, you don’t expect to move between now and then?”

Sunwoo: “No, hopefully not.”

Yarone Zober, the chairman of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and the mayor’s chief of staff, says the city does not know the mystery purchaser.

“I can’t solve that mystery. We haven’t been involved in any development other than the acquisition several years ago of several buildings,” says Zober.

The URA does own a couple buildings along the Wood Street block, which a developer would eventually need to acquire if he wanted to put up a large block-long building.

“We’d look forward to working with someone, organization, or company as long as that development creates jobs, taxes, new residences and adds to the vitality of Pittsburgh and Downtown,” adds Zober.

The leading candidate is PNC with its headquarters kitty-corner to the block, but the bank is not commenting on the notion.

“When it comes to a lot of money, you don’t know,” says Vazquez. “Eventually, I’m guessing the whole thing will come down and something great will go up. This is Pittsburgh. It’s great for Pittsburgh.”

With many of the storefronts along this block of Wood Street closed and boarded up, city officials would like to see something quickly. However, without knowing who that mystery owner is, there is no predicting when something new might be put on Wood Street.

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