PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Across from the Macy’s is a nondescript building that stretches along Smithfield between Fifth and Forbes, just up from the site where the Tower at PNC is being constructed.
Oxford Development, the owner of that building, has promised a major announcement on Thursday.
It’s good news, say local officials.
“We’ve really been fighting this exodus, if you will, from downtown Pittsburgh and from the region, and now that’s reversing,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told KDKA Money Editor Jon Delano.
Oxford won’t talk about their plans, but downtown real estate experts like Ed Lawrence from Colliers International say Pittsburgh needs more top-of-the-line Class A office space.
“The market, as far as office space particularly Class A, is as tight as it’s been in 20 years. It’s very difficult to find large contiguous blocks in downtown.”
Part of the shortage is because some office buildings, like the old State Office Building, are being converted to residential, another sign of downtown growth.
Oxford Development seems poised to take advantage of this.
Real estate experts say that for Oxford to replace this building on Smithfield with a 600,000 square foot building you really need a major tenant.
And in this era of Marcellus shale, that tenant could be someone like Chevron, Shell or another energy producer.
From Market Square to Fifth and Forbes, the perception is changing, says Lawrence.
“It’s amazing the turnaround and renovation that is taking place in that part of town.”
There certainly is an excitement about all this downtown development, and most of this is driven by private sector demand – not the government.
The biggest barrier for locating downtown is parking — and bus service cuts won’t help that — but the new T to North Shore garages has compensated somewhat.
While a major tenant would allow Oxford Development to build a new skyscraper, it’s also possible it will simply renovate the current building.