Parking authority, URA weigh garage at Saks site
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The Pittsburgh Parking Authority voted Thursday to consider teaming with the Urban Redevelopment Authority for the construction of a new garage at the former Saks Fifth Avenue, Downtown, where a convergence of new developments is expected to boost demand for parking spaces.
The parking authority board authorized executive director David Onorato to begin the process of seeking engineers and other consultants needed to study the project. It also authorized him to enter partnership negotiations with the URA, which last week announced its plan to buy the building at Smithfield Street and Oliver Avenue for $4 million.
"This is an ideal site," Mr. Onorato said.
To be determined, Mr. Onorato said, is which authority ultimately would own the site and pay for construction. He said the parking authority likely would have to float a bond to pay for construction.
It would be the parking authority's first construction project since Grant Street Transportation Center opened in 2008.
In all, the parking authority owns 11 garages and lots Downtown. Oliver Garage at Piatt Place and Mellon Square Garage are within blocks of Saks, which closed in March.
The URA has said the new structure could have 500 parking spaces and space for retail. Mr. Onorato said the number of spaces is to be determined and noted that three neighboring parcels -- which the authority either owns or has the opportunity to purchase -- also could be drawn into the development.
Mr. Onorato and parking authority members said new Downtown developments -- and looming cuts in bus funding -- will drive up parking demand. Among other projects, PNC Financial Services Group recently purchased the Lord & Taylor building across the street from Saks, with plans to place 800 employees there, and Oxford Development Co. plans to renovate an existing building, or build a 33-story tower, a block from Saks.
The parking authority already is in the midst of a $7 million-plus meter modernization project Downtown and in Oakland, the South Side and Strip District.
Workers already have begun scouting locations for new multispace metering devices, and installation will be completed in mid-September, Mr. Onorato said. The authority will replace about 3,000 single-space meters, create 500 new spaces and replace existing multispace metering devices in certain neighborhoods.
The authority also voted Thursday to launch a pilot parking project with East Liberty Development Inc.
The hourly rate at two authority lots in the neighborhood will be lowered from $1 to 50 cents in an effort to create more turnover at on-street meters. The hourly rate for on-street meters is 75 cents.
First Published June 22, 2012 12:00 am