Council OKs parcel sales to Downtown developer

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Pittsburgh City Council yesterday approved the sale of eight Downtown parcels, including the former G.C. Murphy Co. store, to an affiliate of Millcraft Industries.

The $2.31 million sale would pave the way for the rebirth of the complex as stores, housing and a relocated Downtown YMCA.

Council's vote was 5-0, with Darlene Harris, Bruce Kraus and William Peduto abstaining, and Dan Deasy out of the room.

Some council members were concerned because the sale price is much lower than what the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority paid for the parcels.

The URA bought the parcels, bounded by Forbes Avenue, Market Place, Fifth Avenue and McMasters Way, for $6.48 million from 2002 through 2006. URA general counsel Don Kortlandt said the agency has "historically invested more in redevelopment properties than the market can."

"That's the cost of taking a bad situation and turning it into a good situation," he said. "You've got a cluster of things that are going to come to Fifth Avenue and turn it from a boarded-up, depressing place" into a vital marketplace.

Mr. Kortlandt said the sale may close in the first quarter of this year, but the exact timing is dependent on a final piece of the financing plan being assembled by Millcraft Industries.

In addition to the Murphy's project, PNC Financial Services Group is building a large office building on Fifth across from Murphy's and Millcraft is redeveloping the former Lazarus department store at Fifth and Wood Street into restaurants, offices and condominiums.

Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.


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