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June 24, 1999

City Council okays 2 Pitt projects

City Council okays 2 Pitt projects

By a 7-0 vote, Pittsburgh City Council approved two University projects that will provide more student housing and academic space on campus.

Pitt plans to construct a six-story academic building across South Bouquet Street from the law school and add a second phase to the Bouquet Gardens undergraduate student housing project in South Oakland.

City council member Sala Udin was absent, and council member Jim Ferlo abstained in the June 15 vote.

In a city council committee session held June 9, Ferlo had attempted to attach a qualifying amendment to the legislation making the construction projects contingent on the University granting medical benefits to same sex domestic partners of faculty and staff. That amendment was voted down 8-0, with Ferlo abstaining.

Phase II of the Bouquet Gardens housing project will add five more buildings and 304 beds in garden-style apartments on the Oakland Avenue/South Bouquet Street/Sennott Street property.

The three-building, 192-bed phase I construction, approved last fall, is expected to be completed Aug. 1. University officials have set an August 2000 completion date for the second phase, which is expected to cost $9.2 million.

Pitt also received city council's approval to construct a multi-purpose academic complex (MPAC) in the block bordered by Forbes and Oakland Avenues and South Bouquet and Sennott Streets, just north of the housing project.

MPAC is targeted to house the College of Business Administration, the psychology and computer science departments, a law school clinic, a police mini-station, first-floor retail space facing Forbes Avenue, and public parking for about 90 cars. The facility will cover about 31,500 square feet. The projected cost is $35 million. Construction is expected to take 24-27 months after groundbreaking, which has not been scheduled.

Tenants for the 18,000 square-foot, first-floor retail space have not been chosen.

After council approved the projects, city council chair Bob O'Connor told University officials, "I'd just like to add that we want a strong anchor tenant in the MPAC building, and we're holding the University to their word that they will find the right tenant. We have faith and trust in what they told us [they would do]."

According to Pitt's Executive Vice Chancellor Jerome Cochran, the University has hired consultants to study the retail situation in Oakland and to recommend retailers for the MPAC building.

Oxford Development Corp., a local consulting firm, will complete a report in late summer or early fall recommending potential retail tenants, Cochran told city council June 3.

Facilities Management architect Randy Richardson told a University Senate committee June 8 that MPAC was 8-10 months away from ground-breaking. Richardson said the University is awaiting appointment of a construction manager by the state Office of General Services. The project then will be put out for bids, he said.

The last University occupants in the six buildings on the MPAC site, part of the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education, will be relocated to the Masonic Temple in September.

The University plans to delay demolition of the buildings until groundbreaking is scheduled, in order to minimize the time the lot will be vacant, Richardson said.

–Peter Hart

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