From the Desk of the COO
In the early 20th century, the area around Fifth and Forbes avenues in downtown Pittsburgh served as a prominent shopping destination, with flagship department stores Frank & Seder and Kaufmann’s just steps away from each other.
Nearly a century later, we’re determined to help that same Fifth and Forbes corridor make a significant comeback. As downtown Pittsburgh continues to attract residents, demand keeps increasing for not only modern residential space but also for quality retail options. At the same time, many businesses have taken note of this re-urbanization and are actively seeking office space so they can enter the downtown market and draw from the widening talent pool. Our newest mixed-use development project is positioned to provide supply for this growing demand, and then some.
We originally purchased the historic Frank & Seder building, at the intersection of Smithfield Street and Fifth Avenue, in 2017, and have laid out plans for a full-scale renovation. Instead of razing the seven-story building, we’re working on a plan for a total rehab to modernize and update the structure. As such, we’re looking to blend the building’s original retail roots with upstairs offices and residential space.
The new development, which we’ve named Smith & Fifth, will address the need for additional living space, with 40 apartments on the upper two levels. The midlevel floors will offer 160,000 square feet of prime office space for the businesses seeking to expand into downtown. We’re also working in over 25,000 square feet of retail space spread over the first two floors, that will offer mezzanine and street-level shopping and dining options.
In every one of our projects, we look at ways to enhance what we call the community core in order to create density and substance and generate a dynamic, energetic environment. We have seen a great response from our other vertically integrated mixed-use properties, including Crocker Park, Eton Chagrin Boulevard and The Beacon, and we’re working hard to deliver that same experience at Smith & Fifth in order to bring that same community-first environment to the Pittsburgh market.
The similarities between Cleveland and Pittsburgh is rather striking. The steady loss of industry closely mirrored itself in both urban centers and paved the way for decades of decline that resulted in the languishing era of the rust belt. However, as we forge our way into the new decade, both cities continue to find ways to grow and to attract businesses and people into their downtown core through dedicated efforts to deliver transformative real estate projects like Smith & Fifth.
These projects not only provide an enticing draw for prospective newcomers, but they also help reinvent traditional spaces into something more compelling and innovative: spaces that are thoughtfully designed, that cater to the needs of the community and that are well-equipped with modern amenities to foster a vibrant neighborhood for years to come. In that sense, the Smith & Fifth development represents a pact between us and the city of Pittsburgh. It presents an opportunity for us to grow alongside one another and to unite our collective expertise to revive a historic retail destination and deliver a dynamic new mixed-use environment to a burgeoning generation of metropolitan residents, workers, and consumers.
At the end of the day, Pittsburgh and Cleveland are very much alike, and we hope to do our part in improving the quality of life in both cities and across the greater region.
Ezra Stark, Chief Operating Officer