Google may be eyeing Bakery Square 2.0 space

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Over the past two years, Google has twice increased its presence at Bakery Square in the East End. Now, the construction of an office building across the street could usher in yet another expansion for the search engine operator.

Google appears to be the leading candidate to occupy at least part of a new six-story office building being built by developer Walnut Capital at the site of the former Reizenstein Middle School.

The 218,000-square-foot building along Penn Avenue will be the anchor for the developer's Bakery Square 2.0 project, which includes a mix of office space, apartments and townhouses.

It will be connected to Bakery Square, the former Nabisco plant redeveloped by Walnut Capital, via a two-level sky bridge over Penn, providing Google with a visible -- and practical -- link to extend its campus if it chooses to do so.

But if another Google expansion in Pittsburgh is in the works, Gregg Perelman, Walnut Capital's managing partner, wouldn't say. He had no comment when asked if Google had any interest in the new space.

However, a source with knowledge of the situation said that the Mountain View, Calif.-based company could take at least one third of the new building and perhaps more.

Google spokeswoman Rebecca Ginsberg Rutkoff said the company doesn't comment on individual real estate transactions.

If the company does move into the new building, it will mark its third expansion since moving into Bakery Square in Larimer in 2011.

That December, a month after opening a 40,000-square-foot office in the development, Google leased an additional 70,000 square feet. Last year, Google took another 50,000 square feet of space and added 75 employees.

Another expansion here would not be surprising. Google has been beefing up its presence in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle.

In fact, Bloomberg News reported that Google and other growing technology companies have been increasing their space while financial firms and other office users have cut back.

Mr. Perelman said Walnut Capital has talked to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University about expanding their presence at Bakery Square. He said the goal of Bakery Square and Bakery Square 2.0 is creating jobs.

"It's all about job growth for us, the opportunities that we have. These are new jobs to Pittsburgh. It's not shuffling jobs. It's not a company relocating. We're talking about new jobs, new people paying income tax, paying state taxes, paying city taxes who live in the city and who work in the city," he said.

While he declined to comment on negotiations with possible tenants, he said that leasing has been going well, though he does not expect to have the building fully rented by the time construction starts.

Walnut Capital hopes to start construction on the project, to cost more than $40 million, in March and have it completed in 18 to 24 months.

The new development will make use of an existing 950-car garage at Bakery Square. There are also plans for a 900- to 1,000-car garage at Bakery Square should the need arise.

Walnut Capital will be seeking a LEED silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council in the design of the new building. There will be bike and pedestrian paths in front of the building. Rooftop gardens will collect rainwater. The sky bridge also will be lighted at night.

A second office building, 350 apartments and 57 townhouses also are part of the master plan for the $120 million Bakery Square 2.0 development. The first residential units are to be completed in June. Mr. Perelman said Walnut Capital has had inquiries from 400 to 500 people about the apartments.

"What we're finding is that people that are working at Bakery Square now are going to be renting apartments from me across the street," he said.

Mark Belko: or 412-263-1262.

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