Downtown women's fashion district plan moving forward

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Pittsburgh took another step Wednesday toward establishing a women's fashion district Downtown with the preliminary approval of the sale of two Wood Street buildings for redevelopment.

City council gave preliminary approval to the sale of buildings at 420 and 422 Wood St. from the Urban Redevelopment Authority to Landmarks Development Corp. for $500,000. Landmarks, which is the development wing of Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, is in the process of restoring the iron facades of the buildings.

The foundation's president, Arthur Ziegler, said the foundation was surprised to find more iron than expected on the facades as it began restoration work. The goal is to join the first floors of the buildings into one retail space and convert the upper floors into apartments, perhaps for students at nearby Point Park University, he said.

Plans are to have the buildings ready shortly after the closing of the sales, about May 1, Mr. Ziegler said.

Those buildings are among a half-dozen storefronts that Landmarks and the Downtown Pittsburgh Community Development Corp. are trying to develop into a women's fashion district for small, boutique shops. CDC executive director John Valentine said that project is moving ahead.

"We are progressing and we expect to announce something soon, but I can't say how soon that will be," Mr. Valentine said. "We are in negotiations with multiple boutiques."

In a related item, city council Tuesday approved $300,000 to hire a consultant to design new sidewalks, lighting and other amenities for the Wood-Smithfield Street corridor.

The work, which will dovetail with the boutique project, is the first project recommended by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Downtown Retail Working Group.

A request for design proposals is expected to go out in the next couple of months.

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Ed Blazina: or 412-263-1470.


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