The week that was: Week of April 13, 2014

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Twice baked

After turning a former Nabisco factory in Larimer into a crown jewel of the Google empire, Walnut Capital has broken ground on Bakery Square 2.0. The massive expansion will sit across the street from Bakery Square at the former Reizenstein Middle School and will feature a 218,000-square-foot office building, 350 apartments and 52 townhouses. The first of the “Bakery Living” apartments will be complete in June and will offer rents ranging from $1,150 for a studio and $3,200 for a two-bedroom.

Raised rents

Paying thousands a month for a high-end studio isn’t the norm in Pittsburgh, but rising rental prices could change expectations. Pittsburgh is giving large metro areas such as New York and San Francisco a run for their money in terms of rental prices, according to San Francisco personal finance website NerdWallet. Experts attributed the rising rents to increases in demand due to the oil and gas industry, as well as increased commerce surrounding the city’s emerging tech sector.

Feeling the squeeze

H.J. Heinz Co.’s Pittsburgh employees are feeling the squeeze in light of a recent buyout offer that affects the majority of the organization. The company sent buyout offers to 775 Pittsburgh employees last week, offering deals that start at six months severance pay and increase depending on years of service. Although the company has cut 600 office positions in the U.S. and Canada since it was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for more than $28 billion in June, managers said they are committed to remaining in Pittsburgh and any employee here who takes the buyout will be replaced. Eligible employees have until Monday to accept the offer.

Jobs jump

Pennsylvania has weathered the economic storms of recent years to come out on top in terms of jobs. The state's unemployment rate in March fell to 6 percent, two points down from February’s rate and far below the national average of 6.7 percent. The 6 percent rate is the lowest unemployment has been since the October 2008 start of the Great Recession. The state's unemployment rate rose largely due to the addition of 19,000 people to the workforce, while the number of unemployed individuals dropped by 8,000 and the state's labor force, a combination of residents who are working and those who are unemployed, grew by 12,000.

Quote of the Week

"I was like, 'What do I do now?' UPMC is all I see every day. I was ignorant that there was even another hospital around here." — University of Pittsburgh student Alaina Smith explains her thoughts after being denied service with a UPMC orthopedic office because she carried Highmark's Community Blue insurance.

Deborah M. Todd: or 412-263-1652.

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