Miller's Ale House to replace Toby Keith at SouthSide Works

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Goodbye, Toby Keith. Hello, Miller's Ale House.

Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority board members approved the sale of half an acre of land Thursday to Mon Shore MAH Associates L.P., an affiliate of the Soffer Organization, for the construction of Miller's Ale House at the SouthSide Works complex.

The 9,000-square-foot full-service restaurant will be built on the Monongahela riverfront next to Hofbrauhaus. The eatery is expected to have seating for 460 people inside as well as an outdoor patio that will be integrated into the South Shore riverfront park.

Miller's Ale House, billed as a family-friendly, casual-dining restaurant, is a replacement for Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, which moved to the North Shore following a lease dispute with Soffer, the SouthSide Works developer.

Soffer hopes to have the new restaurant under construction this summer. It is expected to open in spring 2014.

The developer will pay $221,000 plus costs for the land, sparking concerns from URA board member Jim Ferlo, a state senator and mayoral candidate who felt that the price should have been higher given the location.

"This is a strategic corner of the riverfront," he said. "To me, it should have a higher value."

But URA acting executive director Robert Rubinstein says the prices are locked in as part of the agreement with Soffer to develop the land. He said the current price is now more than $425,000 an acre.

Also Thursday, the URA board approved the purchase of the Skinny Building at 241 Forbes Ave. and the adjacent John M. Roberts and Son building at 429-431 Wood St., Downtown, from Garland Real Properties Inc. for $1.3 million. Garland is a successor by merger with Duffy Road Corp., which paid $725,000 for the buildings in 1997.

The URA intends to upgrade the facades of both structures, located in the heart of the Fifth and Forbes retail corridor, and convert the vacant upper floors of the Roberts building to housing or some other use.

Yarone Zober, URA board chairman, said the agency also would work with the existing tenants, a 7-Eleven convenience store and a discount apparel vendor, to try to improve their offerings.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for us in a corridor that's now thriving," he said.

The two buildings are located across the street from the $400 million Tower at PNC Plaza skyscraper now under construction and a block from a reinvigorated Market Square.

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


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