Development near Consol Energy Center falls through

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A plan to convert two buildings across from the Consol Energy Center into a complex featuring a restaurant, rooftop lounge and loft apartments has fizzled out.

The proposed developer, Blue Line Capital, has decided not to pursue the project, which would have been the first major redevelopment near Consol since it opened in 2010.

"We're back to square one pretty much," said Howard Elinoff, the Uniforms USA owner who has been trying to interest developers in the concept. The properties are part of the current Uniforms USA complex on Fifth Avenue in Uptown.

Blue Line envisioned a two-building development that included a ground-level sports bar, two floors of loft apartments and a huge rooftop lounge at an estimated cost of $3 million to $3.5 million.

But Mark Baranowski, the owner of North Park Lounge who was a partner in the effort, said the venture fell victim to financing issues, the cost of the rooftop deck and concerns about the viability of the location.

The cost of converting the roof into a deck turned out to be higher than he and partner Kevin Nord, president of Pro Towels Etc., had anticipated. That, in turn, complicated the financing.

"To me, the rooftop would have been something really special," Mr. Baranowski said. "That would have been something really unique to draw people to come down to that location." At the same time, he said he had some apprehension about the site.

While the restaurant and lounge most likely would do well on days when there were hockey games or other events at Consol, he had concerns about the off nights. He questioned whether there would be enough business to justify the large investment.

Mr. Nord could not be reached for comment.

Now that the deal has fallen through, Mr. Elinoff said he hopes to market the project, locally and perhaps nationally, to other restaurateurs and developers. He said he plans to hire a real estate professional to assist him.

Mr. Elinoff said he had talked to ex-Penguins and others associated with the hockey team about the venture. Trying to get a current player to invest in the venture "might be the next step," he said.

So far, however, he hasn't been able to find any takers.

"It's a frustrating thing because it's great for the area," he said of the project. "For this area, it was the seed that's needed."


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


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