Point Park University buys two Downtown properties
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Point Park University is extending its reach Downtown with two more acquisitions near the heart of its campus.
The university last week closed on the purchase of two office buildings at 312 and 322 Boulevard of the Allies. It paid $4.3 million for the two structures, both of which had been owned by the Metropolitan Savings Service Corp.
Mariann Geyer, vice president for university advancement, said Point Park hasn't decided what it will do with the two properties, or any of its other more recent acquisitions, including another office building at 100 Wood St.
That will be determined in an ongoing master space planning process scheduled to be completed this spring. That exercise is analyzing the university's interior needs.
"We now will incorporate them into the master space plan and figure out how to best use them," Ms. Geyer said.
While the future use of the buildings may be up in the air, the acquisitions only add to Point Park's status as the second largest property holder Downtown, behind the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
With the purchases, Point Park now owns 14 properties Downtown and leases parts of at least four others. The two latest acquisitions are next to a parking lot owned by Point Park and across the street from the university's new dance studio complex.
The buying spree has been driven in large part by an enrollment boom that has seen the private university go from 2,305 students 10 years ago to 3,600 last fall.
Tom Sullivan, a commercial broker with Pennsylvania Commercial Real Estate, said the latest purchases are "no real surprise" given that they are located near the heart of the Point Park campus at Wood Street and Boulevard of the Allies.
"Everybody has been waiting for Point Park to buy them. They were the most natural buyer," he said.
Mr. Sullivan said the purchases also fit in with the vision cast by a panel of experts assembled the Washington D.C.-based Urban Land Institute last fall to help guide Point Park's future.
That panel urged the university to acquire the One Smithfield Street building at Smithfield Street at Fort Pitt Boulevard, the YMCA building on the Boulevard of the Allies and perhaps other smaller buildings as a way to increase its visibility and consolidate campus activity in a five-block area from Fort Pitt Boulevard to Forbes Avenue.
With the latest purchases, "It takes them closer to creating that campus," Mr. Sullivan said.
There's also been a lot of talk lately about Point Park having its eye on the YMCA building, which would be next in line in the university's march up the Boulevard of the Allies.
The building is for sale because the Downtown YMCA will be moving to the old G.C. Murphy building near Market Square in late 2008 or early 2009.
Mr. Sullivan sees Point Park as the most natural buyer. Ms. Geyer said the university has no comment at this time.
As Point Park ponders the best way to use the space, there are no immediate plans to move anyone from the two office buildings it acquired last week, Ms. Geyer said.
Since both are used for commercial purposes, they will remain taxable for the time being, she said, despite the university's tax-exempt status.
First Published January 3, 2008 12:00 am