Developer expanding plans for North Shore site
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A Columbus, Ohio, developer, confident about the demand for space on the North Shore, is expanding a proposed office and retail development next to Stage AE to include a third floor.
North Shore Place Partners LLC has submitted an application to the city planning department for the new three-story development, which will be called North Shore Place I and II.
The project is being developed by Continental Real Estate Companies in conjunction with the Steelers and the Pirates. It will feature ground-level restaurant and entertainment space, and two stories of offices -- one more than originally was envisioned when Continental announced plans for the development earlier this year.
"We feel confident enough that the office market has solidified," said Barry Ford, Continental's president of development. "We feel bullish, and we are going to go ahead and do an extra floor of office."
The expanded development, to be built on North Shore Drive between Chuck Noll Way and Tony Dorsett Drive, will double the amount of office space available to 80,000 square feet. The restaurant and entertainment space will total 40,000 square feet.
Mr. Ford said Continental is working with "several good prospects" interested in the office space.
"We've gotten lots of inquiries, and we are working with some prospects now for some of that space. It was with that in mind that we decided to take the risk and go with a third floor on the building," he said.
The expansion comes at a time when the two existing office buildings on the North Shore are at or near capacity. At Del Monte Center, only 2,600 square feet of space in the 250,000-square-foot building are available. All 150,000 square feet of space at the former Equitable building is occupied, according to the Newmark Grubb Knight Frank real estate firm.
Continental already has completed a deal with Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill to take one of the ground floor restaurant spots in the new development. The developer also has been talking to Burgatory, a local hamburger haven, about taking another of the spaces. There also may be a sports bar in the works.
With the extra floor, Mr. Ford said the total cost of the development is expected to exceed $25 million. Continental hopes to start work in March and have the building ready for occupancy by April 2014. It expects to take the project before the city planning commission for approval next month.
The development is the first advanced by Continental and the Steelers and Pirates since the city Stadium Authority board voted last year to amend a 9-year-old option agreement with the teams and extend the deadlines they had missed for developing land between Heinz Field and PNC Park.
Under the new timetable for development, Continental must have the project started by March. "We're obviously going to comply with our agreements," Mr. Ford said.
Last spring, the authority approved conceptual plans for the project and voted to sell the 1.3 acres needed for the complex to Continental and the teams for $900,000, the appraised value.
At the time, the appraiser, Integra Realty Resources, questioned whether the proposed office and retail project was the best use for the property. But it also judged the development to be the only one "marginally financially feasible" at the time given market conditions.
In 2011, Alco Parking Corp. president Merrill Stabile offered $10 million for a 3.3-acre North Shore site that included the Continental property. He proposed to build what he called a "signature office tower." The stadium authority effectively killed that bid by choosing to amend the option agreement with Continental and the teams.
Toby Keith is preparing to move to the North Shore after an effort to build the restaurant at SouthSide Works collapsed, prompting a lawsuit that claimed the franchise did not live up to its lease obligations.
The lawsuit, filed by an affiliate of SouthSide Works developer Soffer Organization, sought a judgment of $460,005. Court records indicate that the parties are trying to settle the case.
First Published October 12, 2012 12:29 am