Piatt Place condos still lack heat after gas leak

Repairs continue in Nov. 29 shutoff

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The luxury condominiums at Piatt Place Downtown feature hardwood floors, recessed lighting, walk-in closets and granite countertops. But for now, owners of the units lack one very basic necessity: heat.

Gas service to the condo portion of the remodeled building, which was shut off Nov. 29 after a leak was detected, has yet to be restored, leaving about 50 residents to fight the chill with little more than space heaters and blankets.

In a letter Thursday to residents, Lucas Piatt, president and chief operating officer for developer Millcraft Industries, did not offer a timetable for when gas service would return but said that contractors are working double shifts trying to rectify the problems.

"Please be assured that the building is absolutely safe and the system is being inspected and repaired as necessary. The lines will not be recharged until we pass all of the necessary regulatory tests and our certified project engineers and consultants are comfortable that the system is in a safe condition," he wrote.

Mr. Piatt stated that the initial leak was traced to a faulty weld. He added that testing revealed "multiple areas in which this faulty condition has existed. We are now working to repair all of these areas."

In a statement and an interview Friday, Mr. Piatt said "every joint in the building" is being inspected to determine if there are any other leaks. He said that is the reason it is taking so long to restore service. All of the gas lines into the condos were new, Mr. Piatt said.

The three floors of condos, 65 units in all, were built on top of the four-floor former Lazarus-Macy's department store after Millcraft bought the building from Federated Department Stores for $8.5 million in late 2005. Condos ranged in price from $300,000 to more than $1 million.

Millcraft converted the former store itself into retail and office space as part of the $65 million redevelopment. Gas service to retailers and the offices has not been affected.

Mr. Piatt said space heaters have been given to condo owners who have requested them. Millcraft also has provided two-burner electric cooktops to residents in units with gas stoves, less than a dozen overall.

Despite the gas being shut off, all residents have had hot water because those heaters are run by electricity.

"Everybody's in a comfortable temperature. The individual apartments are holding the temperature very well," Mr. Piatt said. "Everyone is able to take a shower and get hot water. Those who can't cook with gas can cook with the electric cooktops."

Millcraft also began Friday to offer a continental breakfast for residents in the lobby of the building. That will continue until gas service is restored.

Mr. Piatt would not estimate how soon that would be, nor would he say who he thought was responsible for the problems. "Our goal right now is to fix the issue," he said.


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


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