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Thursday, December 18, 2008
RIDC plays big part in economic development
As posted by: Pittsburgh Live
Donald F. Smith is joining a regional economic development corporation as president, but that doesn't mean he'll disconnect completely from the two universities where he's been director of economic development since 2002.
Smith is leaving the joint post he held for the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University to become president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp. of Southwestern Pennsylvania sometime in January.
Still, Smith likely will continue to deal with Pitt, CMU and other schools that foster development of spinoff companies.
The RIDC historically has played a key role in development of some of the commercial buildings that served the needs of the universities themselves as well as firms developed by students and faculty, and outside companies looking to move close to the schools.
For example, the corporation partnered with CMU on buildings including the Software Engineering Institute in Oakland and the Collaborative Innovation Center on the school's campus.
Smith played a role in development of the innovation center, the only building in the world with Intel, Apple and Google employees under one roof.
"I believe that the RIDC can still be a resource for the universities," Smith said.
With the universities attracting more than $1 billion a year in research dollars and helping to spawn spinoff companies, officials have estimated that more than 1 million square feet will be needed to house such firms over the next 10 years.
That's one of the reasons why the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority announced plans to develop up to nine buildings at the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland.
The RIDC has considered building an addition to its 2000 Technology Drive building at the Pittsburgh Technology Center, where Cleveland developer Ferchill Group's $46 million Bridgeside Point II is under construction.
And the RIDC is general partner in Almono LP, a nonprofit partnership of four local foundations that teamed in 2002 to buy the 178-acre former LTV Steel site in Hazelwood. A $400 million development that could create 2,400 jobs and include housing, commercial space, community amenities and green space is planned there.
One of Smith's tasks will be to help choose a master developer for that property, which could be a location for companies looking to move close to the Oakland universities.
The Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment on Thursday will review plans to put nine parking spaces on a lot at 44th and Calvin streets in Lawrenceville for The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Children's Hospital. The board will review Atallah Khali's request to put 10 parking stalls at the rear of a three-story, 12-unit apartment at 343 McKee Place, Oakland. Brandy Mangham will seek approval for a child care center for up to 12 children at 52 Grape St., 30th Ward. Pennsylvania American Water wants to use 640 square feet in a one-story building at 317 Knox Ave., Knoxville, for chemical storage abutting its existing pump station.
Construction activity for the year in Pittsburgh reached $891 million through October; 201 permits valued at $102 million were issued, the Bureau of Building Inspection said. The largest permit was $30 million for a six-story parking garage at Bakery Square, 6425 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Although permits for only four single-family houses were issued, they brought the totals for the year to 157, compared to 67 for all of 2007.
The Green Building Alliance and its executive director, Rebecca Flora, will review the latest local and national green building initiatives at the alliance's annual meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Regional Enterprise Tower, 425 Sixth Ave., Downtown.
A Rite Aid pharmacy has opened at 7345 Saltsburg Road, Penn Hills. It has more than 11,000 square feet. The company plans to open about 85 stores nationwide this fiscal year.
A sales center has opened for the 28-unit Residences condominiums at Three PNC Plaza, Downtown. Howard Hanna Real Estate Services operates the center and said three of the units have been sold.
Daniel Friedson, along with artists, law students and volunteers, has opened an arts and entertainment incubator in the former PNC Bank office at 6000 Penn Ave., East Liberty. Friedson, who runs the Community Economic Development Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, said most activities are offered on Saturdays. The incubator offers low-cost facilities and space for performing artists.
Urban Homesteaders in Allegheny County will receive a $94,710 agriculture planning grant from Commonwealth Financing Authority for the Blackberry Meadows Farm Commercial Kitchen/Farmers Market in Fawn Township. The Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation will receive an $83,000 agriculture planning grant for the Farmers' Markets in Washington and Westmoreland counties.
One of Bernardo Katz's former properties in Beechview has been sold. S&T Bank foreclosed on, then acquired, in June 1550-54 Beechview Ave. Clement M. Okoye purchased it for $180,000, according to a deed filed in Allegheny County. The property includes a one-story bank building, three-story mercantile apartment building and one-story mercantile building.
A community shopping center at 560 Route 51, Pleasant Hills, has been sold to Progress CL LLC, in care of Superior Realty Group of Brooklyn, N.Y., for $3.75 million, according a deed filed in Allegheny County. Robert I. Glimcher of Glimcher Venture Holdings Inc. was the seller; Goldy Rabinowitz signed for Progress, part of Highfield Two Associates LLC.