Kaufmann’s returning to Downtown — but in name only
December 1, 2016 12:00 AM
Architectural rendering of proposed Kaufmann's Grand on Fifth, Downtown
Grant Street Associates has begun marketing Kaufmann's Grand on Fifth, which will feature retail in the former Macy's/Kaufmann's department store Downtown.
By Mark Belko / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Kaufmann’s is returning to Downtown Pittsburgh, at least in name.
It won’t be attached to a new department store but is being used to market the retail space that will be available in an old one — the former Macy’s/Kaufmann’s store on Smithfield Street.
Philadelphia developer Core Realty, the building owner, has dubbed the retail component of the proposed redevelopment Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth.
It is expected to feature up to 50,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor — including a restaurant at the corner of Smithfield and Fifth Avenue, the site of the building’s iconic clock.
Core recently hired the Grant Street Associates real estate firm to market the restaurant spot and the other retail spaces in the structure, including the first floor and the old arcade level.
“Kaufmann’s clock is as synonymous with the city of Pittsburgh as the three rivers. So it’s really an exciting project for us,” said J.R. Yocco, senior vice president of retail for Grant Street Associates.
Core is pairing the retail with 312 luxury apartments and a 155-room Even Hotel as part of the 13-story building’s redevelopment.
But there’s a new element as well. The Jones Lang LaSalle real estate firm has begun marketing The Grand at Fifth Avenue — 50,000 square feet of top-of-the-class office space on the building’s second floor.
It’s the first time the office component has been mentioned as part of the project. Neither Jeff Adams, the JLL vice president who is marketing the space, nor Randy Mineo, Core’s executive vice president, could be reached for comment.
On the retail side, Grant Street Associates already has interest from a “few parties” in the restaurant space, which could occupy one or two levels at the corner, said Mr. Yocco and John Jackson, a Grant Street Associates vice president for retail.
The real estate firm is looking for a distinctive restaurant to take the prominent spot, perhaps one new to Pittsburgh or one that brings something new to Downtown.
“People really want an experience nowadays,” Mr. Jackson said. “We’re trying to bring something different into Downtown Pittsburgh.”
Grant Street Associates also has had discussions with other retailers about taking space in the building, but neither Mr. Yocco nor Mr. Jackson would say who they are. Nor would they say whether they’ve had any conversations with Bruce Frank, the CEO of Jupiter, Fla.-based Frank Entertainment Companies.
Mr. Frank has had discussions with Core about converting part of the store into a cutting-edge entertainment venue, with a 12-screen movie theater, 16 to 20 lanes of bowling, a 40-game amusement park-style arcade, and two restaurants.
Mr. Frank has estimated that he would need 65,000 to 75,000 square feet of space for the venue. Core originally had planned to set aside 130,000 square feet on the building’s first two floors for retail, restaurants and entertainment.
Although neither Mr. Yocco nor Mr. Jackson would discuss prospective tenants, they called the redevelopment a transformative project for the central business district, one that should pair nicely with the new Pittsburgh Playhouse under construction on Forbes Avenue and the changes that have taken place in Market Square.
“We’re really excited about what’s occurring in that area right now. It’s really kind of the heart of the city of Pittsburgh,” Mr. Jackson said.
Core purchased the building on Smithfield between Fifth and Forbes for $15 million in 2015. Under the original plan, Macy’s was to occupy the first four floors of the redevelopment but later decided against it and closed the store in September 2015.
The Downtown landmark served as the Kaufmann’s flagship store for generations of shoppers. Naming the new retail space Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth “is a nod to the iconic and historic nature of the property,” Mr. Jackson said.
Mark Belko: email@example.com or 412-263-1262.
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