Plan for former Saks building enters negotiations

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PITTSBURGH - The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh today started negotiations with two developers to transform the Downtown block that’s home to the closed Saks Fifth Avenue into a complex with 20,000 square feet of retail space, 101 residential units and a 400- to 500-space parking garage.

Millcraft Investments and McKnight Realty Partners teamed to propose the development.

The URA’s board of directors voted to grant exclusive negotiation rights to the developers for 90 days with an option for a 60-day extension.

Brian Walker, Millcraft’s CFO, said many of the details, including the cost and financing of the project, have yet to be worked out with the URA and the Pittsburgh Parking Authority.

Robert Rubinstein, the URA’s acting executive director, said the proposal beat out two other plans and capitalizes on a larger strategy to meet growing demand for Downtown apartments and small retailers.

Millcraft and McKnight are uniquely positioned to take on the project.

Millcraft’s Piatt Place residential development abuts the Saks site and McKnight owns the nearby Oliver Building, where guests of a planned hotel could use spaces in the proposed parking garage. Other spaces would be reserved for residents and some open to the public.

“This is a 100 percent home run,” said state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park, a URA board member who voted in favor of the concept.

This article was written by Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE.