Pittsburgh planning commission approves plan for Hotel Monaco

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Kimpton hotels are known for their complimentary wine hours. But at the chain's new upscale hotel Downtown, you may be able to get a shake to go with that sauvignon.

City planning commission members cleared the way Tuesday for the conversion of the James Reed Building on Sixth Avenue into a Hotel Monaco featuring 249 rooms, a rooftop hospitality suite, fitness center, banquet and ballroom space, and a restaurant.

Also Tuesday, the commission was briefed on plans to convert the upper floors of the Clark Building on Liberty Avenue into at least 144 apartments and to create an addition to Four Gateway Center to accommodate the new Eddie Merlot's steakhouse.

San-Francisco-based Kimpton is teaming with Philadelphia developer PMC Property Group to turn the James Reed Building, former headquarters of the Reed Smith law firm and Duquesne Light Co., into the boutique hotel. PMC bought the building for $5.5 million in a bankruptcy sale last September.

Sean Beasley, an associate with Strada architectural firm, said the hotel is expected to open by next summer. It will feature about 35 rooms per floor in the nine-story Beaux-Arts style building.

The basement will house a sit-down restaurant. Kimpton also is planning a "sandwich window" for take-out near the hotel entrance to the restaurant at Strawberry Way and William Penn Place. Mr. Beasley said the window will be "modeled" after those at Shake Shack restaurants.

Although he said Shake Shack could be a possibility, he stressed that no restaurant has been confirmed to date. A Shake Shack would be a first for Pittsburgh. The popular chain currently has restaurants in New York, Connecticut, Florida, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and Philadelphia.

Kimpton prides itself on customer service. It advertises a yoga mat in every room. At many of its hotels, guests can arrange at no extra charge to have goldfish brought to their room to keep them company during their stay.

Craig Davis, CEO and president of local tourism group VisitPittsburgh, said the hotel's location a few blocks from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center should make it an attractive choice for convention planners.

While Mr. Davis said the city still needs a hotel attached to the convention center itself, he called the Kimpton addition "very helpful."

PMC also is the developer behind the conversion of the upper floors of the 23-story Clark Building, the longtime hub of the city's diamond-selling business, into apartments. It purchased the 86-year-old building for $7 million at an auction in December.

At this point, PMC is planning 144 apartments at the Clark Building, but has an interest in increasing the number if possible.

It expects to keep the lower floors for retail, including jewelry sales.

The proposed 24-by-74-foot addition for Eddie Merlot's restaurant will cut into a pedestrian walkway that snakes through the portion of Gateway Center between Boulevard of the Allies and Liberty Avenue.

To compensate for that, officials for the restaurant and Hertz Investment Group, owner of the Gateway center office complex, are proposing to trim back the landscaping in the area to create more space for pedestrians.

The addition would house board and banquet rooms. Officials hope to have it finished in about four months.

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Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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