'Plain' East Liberty hotel doesn't impress Pittsburgh city planners

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Plans for a 137-room boutique hotel in East Liberty hit a bit of turbulence before the city planning commission Tuesday.

At the same meeting, members got their first glimpse of a proposal for another big development in the East End neighborhood -- a 360-unit apartment complex built around a $52 million transit center.

The commission delayed a final vote on plans by Governor's Hotel Co. LP to build a Hotel Indigo after several members expressed concern about the side of the building facing North Highland Avenue.

"This has a real plain look to me, something you would see driving down the highway," commission chairwoman Wrenna Watson said.

Other members said the side facing Highland looked too much like an office building or did not have a "presence" at street level in an area booming with redevelopment. They also wanted to see more detail regarding landscaping and lighting at the hotel, to be built at the corner of North Highland and Broad Street.

"You're setting the tone for the next 20 years with this building," member Page Thomas said.

Felix A. Cardella III, president of TKA Architects, said afterward he should be able to address the concerns raised by the commission before it meets again in two weeks.

Governor's Hotel Co. LP hopes to break ground this spring and have the hotel open about a year from now. The developer will utilize three existing buildings, including the former Governor's Hotel, and a new five-story addition.

The hotel will feature oversized beds, hardwood-style floors with area rugs and spa-style showers. It will be managed by InterContinental Hospitality Group. Rates are expected to range from $140 to $150 a night.

A short distance away, Mosites Co. is proposing a 360-unit apartment complex on a four-acre parcel of land adjacent to the East Busway. The $52 million transit center, which will serve as the hub for nearly 1,000 bus arrivals and departures each day, will feature new bus shelters, a new pedestrian bridge and a bicycle depot.

The development also will include 42,000 square feet of retail space, a central courtyard with a swimming pool, a rooftop garden, and parking for 540 vehicles. Mosites already has landed a clothing store to anchor part of the retail space.

Steve Mosites, president of Mosites Co., said bids should go out on the transit center, the parking and other site infrastructure this summer. Mosites expects to get started on the apartments next year, with the first ready for occupancy in spring 2015.

In other action, the commission continued its hearing on L.W. Molnar Associates' proposed Oakland Portal development of offices and a hotel on a 12-acre site between Fifth and Forbes avenues at Robinson Street until April 16.

neigh_city - businessnews

Diana Nelson Jones contributed. Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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