River Vue apartments Downtown nearly ready to roll
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Bare-knuckle politics soon will give way to the welcome wagon at one Downtown building.
Washington County developer Millcraft Industries is close to completing the first phase of the $45 million conversion of the former State Office Building into the 218-unit River Vue apartment complex.
The first 50 units on floors two, three and four of the 16-story former government building should be ready for occupancy by April 14. All 218 apartments and townhouses should be done by the middle of September.
Lucas Piatt, Millcraft's chief operating officer, said 30 apartments have been rented in the month since Lincoln Property Co. began leasing units from a trailer outside the building. The models have been available to show for less than two weeks.
"I think we're pretty happy with where we are," he said. "Two weeks ago we just finished the model. Now almost every person that looks at it rents."
Contractors are hoping to complete at least two additional floors each month before finishing the project in September.
Rents start at $1,050 a month for a studio unit and climb as high as $5,500 a month for a 2,806-square-foot townhouse with three bedrooms on the top floor with prime views of Point State Park and the confluence of the city's three rivers.
Standard one-bedroom units range in size from 687 square feet to 1,204 square feet and rent for $1,235 to $1,975 a month. Two-bedroom apartments measuring 1,145 square feet to 1,590 square feet go for $1,895 to $2,659 a month.
The lower priced units typically are on the lower floors. For example, a 900-square-foot one-bedroom model on the third floor is renting for $1,655. A two bedroom with two bathrooms on the same floor leases for $2,050.
All apartments feature nine-foot ceilings and six-foot high windows. They are equipped with a refrigerator, a stove, a dishwasher and an all-in-one washer/dryer machine.
Tenants are required to pay for their own electricity. Valet parking is available for $190 a month. River Vue also allows up to two pets, each one costing an additional $35 a month. Certain dog breeds -- Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Chow Chow and Doberman -- are not permitted.
Krissy Presutti, business manager for Lincoln, said all but one of the seven townhouses have been rented. She said there's been strong demand for the units in part because of the high occupancy rate Downtown.
According to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, the occupancy rate for apartments in Downtown, the lower Hill, the Strip District and the North and South shores was a combined 95.8 percent in the third quarter of 2011, the most recent quarter available.
"There's a lot of excitement about something new and different. We're definitely getting a lot of interest," Ms. Presutti said.
Millcraft purchased the building, located at Commonwealth Place and Liberty Avenue, from the state for $4.6 million in 2009.
The purchase was criticized by state Auditor General Jack Wagner, who argued that the price was too low and that taxpayers would lose money in the long run. The Department of General Services maintained taxpayers would win out by not having to pay to renovate or to operate and maintain the aging building.
State employees have been relocated to other buildings Downtown, including one owned by Millcraft.
First Published March 2, 2012 12:00 am