Bakery Square developer to present expansion plan

Walnut Capital wants to 'double down'

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Now that it has filled office leases on a former bakery site where the city's Larimer, Shadyside and East Liberty neighborhoods converge, Walnut Capital is ready to add far more space on the former Reizenstein Middle School property across the street.

The East End real estate and development firm goes before the city planning commission Tuesday to describe the six-story, 218,000-square-foot office building that will anchor the commercial aspect of the Bakery Square 2.0 project.

Walnut Capital expects to spend more than $120 million overall developing the side of Penn Avenue that abuts Mellon Park, across from the retail shops, eateries and offices of Bakery Square.

It has already begun construction of new housing, which ultimately will include 350 rental apartments and 57 townhouses. The office space at Bakery Square 2.0 is to total 400,000 square feet, with another one or two buildings to be constructed after the first one, said Walnut Capital managing partner Gregg Perelman.

"We're basically doubling down on the office space, which is currently very strong in our niche market," he said. "Part of the reason it's so strong is we're so close to the universities, with strong working relationships with Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh."

Bakery Square filled up more than 200,000 square feet in four years with technology-oriented, university-related tenants such as Google, the UPMC Technology Development Center, Pitt's Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, CMU's Software Engineering Institute and the VA Human Engineering Research Laboratories.

Mr. Perelman expressed confidence that Walnut Capital was not over-building in the East End.

"We have good opportunities we believe will come to fruition soon," he said. "In this market, you have to be sure about things."

The developer is hoping to begin the new office construction by March, with the building ready for use by tenants by late 2015.

One new physical feature the planning commission is likely to take a close look at is a skywalk over Penn Avenue designed for use by office employees at Bakery Square 2.0, giving them weather-protected access to the existing parking garage across the street. Residents of the apartments and townhouses to be built would use underground parking on their side of Penn.

Mr. Perelman said no retail use is envisioned at Bakery Square 2.0. Walnut Capital is still filling retail space at the existing site.

The first residential units at Bakery Square 2.0 are to be completed by June, with an open house planned at the site Jan. 18.

Gary Rotstein: or 412-263-1255.

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