State Taxpayers Foot Bill For Empty Office Space

By Andy Sheehan, KDKA Investigator

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The building is Piatt Place. A few years back it was the Lazarus Department store.

Today, it’s a home to the state government and as a state taxpayer you’re paying for a lot of unused space.

With Auditor General Jack Wagner, KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan found some 50 conference and meeting rooms — none of which was in use — or showed signs of ever being used.

More than a half dozen were assigned to the Department of General Services.

”As you can see it’s not in use,” Wagner said.

“Oh my Lord – another Department of General Services meeting room,” he added. “How many Department of General Services meetings rooms are there? We can be sure of one thing – too many.”

Several state departments moved into Piatt Place after Piatt and its partners bought the old state office building for $4.6 million.

Now, the state is paying more in one year of leases than it received in that sale.

In addition to Piatt Place which it is leasing for $3.2 million a year, the state is spending another $1.2 million to lease space at 11 Stanwix Street and another $900,000 to lease part of the Chamber of Commerce building on Seventh Avenue.

The total cost of all those leases comes to $5.2 million – about $600,000 more than the state got in the sale.

And you can add to that space across the street from Piatt Place in the Warner Center for LIHEAP and the state Department of Welfare’s public assistance office, the state is leasing this Class A office space in the Warner center for another $700,000 a year.

The decision to sell the state office building and lease these properties was made by the Rendell Administration. A spokesman for the new governor Tom Corbett disavowed any responsibly.

“It’s something that this administration will try to avoid by making better decisions with taxpayer money.”

The Piatts and their company Millcraft declined to appear on camera, but told KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan the sale of the state office building will be a good deal for taxpayers since they plan to invest $45 million, turn it into apartments and condos and return the building to the tax rolls.

  • bear

    Just another fine example of the sheer waste of pa’s first green governor, the RENDELL THIEF. It took 8 years to decontaminate the governors seat. Now maybe we can cut the state budget in HALF.

  • Shockly

    Nobody should be surprised by this, if a real investigation is done on the former administration these kind of reports would be a daily occurrence.


    Oh Gee!!!! Maybe we can take that money spent on this and spend it on some other government program that does not produce any revenue or results.
    8 years of a communist Ed Rendumbel and way to long of idiots like
    Mayor Stupidstahl and others Pgh is a mess .

    • Lawrence Zachary Taylor

      Rendell is about as much a communist as Ronald Reagan. Stop watching FoxNews for your information. Ed Rendell’s party has 1 member: Ed Rendell. He is a fat smiling terd on the bottom of a shoe sunk at the bottom of a septic tank. If someone ever proves how much money he banked for himself as governor you wouldnt even believe it.

  • The Juice

    Anyone guess how much Rendell’s kickback was from Millcraft?

    Rendell needed taken out to the woodshed long ago. He will end his life in prison if there is justice left in the world.

  • Joan Orie Melvin Wedgie

    Get Rendell to claim all his private “earnings” and you could trim the budget deficit by 10%

  • J Eonta

    I knew Rendell was a big mistake from day one. Simply not renew the lease at the end of the one year term. Duh!! Saved almost 6 million. Why can’t our politicians use common sense and figure out how to save our money.
    And Fox News never called him a communist. They are the only sane news show on TV.

    • Bill O'Reilly Is Full Of It

      Don’t be a sucker. Fox News/ MSNBC has to sell commercials just like the rest of em. They get you agitated and angry so you keep watching, thus getting you more angry and more frustrated, and more irritable, but their information is just as flawed and one-sided.

  • xapns

    and we laugh at autocrats and their corruption and yet dont look in our own backyard. USA best country in the world

  • FixPGH

    And this is my main reason for not being supportive of tearing the Civic Arena down because they want to build office space there. They built the Southside Works, they built the Waterfront, they are building in East Libery…there is a ton of unused space in this city and they just keep building more stuff!

    • Kdka news team

      Lets build a jail cell in that underground northshore extension, put rendell in there. You could visit him on you way to the casino. Wait, when is that project to be completed?

  • Ming the Merciless

    This is just one of many buildings rented and wasted.
    out on 222/30 when they changed the interchange they rented a whole floor of a building on Montor church rd half was empty then when they started the near by bridge replacement project on Montor they rented yet another office building. Marty was told about this and did nothing about it
    This goes on all over the state Penn dot wasting office space. and renting trailers which sit empty

  • jeez

    Lets build a jail cell in that underground northshore extension, put rendell in there. You could visit him on you way to the casino. Wait, when is that project to be completed?

  • Our Tax Dollars at Work

    This is idiotic. It’s amazing that this kind of stuff constantly happens and we as taxpayers have no say in the matter. We have no recourse. What is wrong with this picture? Our system is broke (in more ways than one). Another example of government being too big and out of control and we’re all paying for it.

  • Our Tax Dollars at Work

    Another thing, who are is the Piatts and Millcraft? How much tax revenue will be generated from those condos? I’d like to see that analysis. They’re going to invest $45M in that building? I’d also like to see that proven. And how convenient that the new state office space is being rented out by from the same company that bought the state office building. Let’s see, it shouldn’t take them too long to raise $45M with the rent they’re charging us. Something smells rotten here. Eddie sold that office building for half of what it was worth in a single source bid to Piatt. That’s just wrong. This needs to be investigated further because it not only sounds like a horrendous business decision for the taxpayers, but it also feels like some underhanded dealing was done. The Piatt’s were significant donors to the Rendell campaign and they also got $2M in state grant money to refurbish Piatt Place. That’s more taxpayer money that went to them. They’ve probably got their hand out for state money to help fund the old state office building.

    • m

      The old state office was sold in a public sealed bid process. Millcraft was the only bidder. Construction on that project will begin in early spring. Millcraft did not recieve state money on the project.

      The State is paying under market rate at piatt place. I don’t think real estate developers have any say in the utilization of a tenents space.

      State money was given to get the Piatt Place project started, which was well spent. That project propelled hundreds of millions in development in the 5th and forbes area/market square.

      Millcraft is a family owned company that is from the region and has invested millions of their own money into this region. They far from have their hand out!

  • Mr Soho

    Charges need to be brought up against Rendell and all his cronies. This was the worst Administration in Pa. history.

  • Our Tax Dollars at Work

    This is just one of many rotten deals swung by Eddie Spendell during his tenure. And all along he always pushed for even higher taxes. Thank God he’s finally out of there.

    But don’t worry, we always have casino revenue to fall back on.

    -Eddie Spendell

  • Greg Madler

    I was there today defending a unemployment case. Albatross I as employer I’m paying for.

  • Rent an office in Pennsylvania

    I like and understand fully your topic and bookmark it for future post of you. wish you all the best of all.

  • Gloria Horn

    I have been searching for months for meeting space for an event. Who do I contact about renting this space?

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