Pitt agrees to buy Halket and Bates street properties from Walnut Capital

Empty lot with buildings in background


The Board of Trustees Property & Facilities committee has approved the purchase of two properties in Oakland from Walnut Capital for future development and the plans for two construction projects on campus.

Fifth and Halket: Pitt will pay $19.5 million for three-quarters of an acre of land with a buildable footprint of 33,598 square feet at the southwest corner of Fifth Avenue and Halket Street. Shadyside developer Walnut Capital announced last year that it was planning a 10-story Innovation Research Tower at the site. Demolition of the strip of buildings between Fifth Avenue and Euler Way began in earnest in May 2020, after being delayed by the pandemic. The site has been approved by the city of Pittsburgh for a structure of up to 285,125 square feet with 1.5 stories of parking. The resolution passed by the committee said, “The University has identified a need for near-term expansion in multiple health science programs ideally suited to this location due to its adjacency with the University’s research enterprises and UPMC, and the proposed location and potential use align with the University’s real estate strategy.” Plans for a new building at the site will be presented at a future meeting of the Property and Facilities Committee.

Row of condemned houses

Bates Street rowhouses: Walnut Capital intends to buy 11 condemned rowhouses at a prominent location near the Boulevard of the Allies and the Parkway East — at 3401 to 3421 Bates Street and one at 392 Coltart Ave. — from Oakland Gateway Ventures, via the purchase of the mortgage loan and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure of the property. In a story in the Post-Gazette this week, Walnut Capital said it had no immediate plans for the properties. But now it has agreed to demolish the structures and then transfer the property to Pitt, with the University’s commitment to reimburse Walnut’s expenses. The purchase price for the 18,517 square feet of property on 12 parcels will be $5.6 million plus approximately $399,125 in reimbursable costs. No specific plans were announced for the site, but the resolution said: “The property sits at an important and highly visible juncture for the University and acquisition will enhance a key campus gateway.” The Oakland Planning and Development Corp. will host a development activities meeting on the Walnut Capital demolition proposal at 6 p.m. June 24 via Zoom.

New chiller plant: The committee approved the construction of an upper campus chilled water plant and distribution system at an estimated cost of $117 million. The new plant will support planned construction projects on the upper campus and tie into the University’s existing chilled water network. A new electrical substation is planned to serve the plant as well as future electrical growth and redundancy on the upper campus. The new plant also will capture stormwater on the upper campus and send it back to the new chilled water plant for reuse.

Hillman Library construction: The third phase of the four-part reinvention of Hillman Library will include work on the first and second floor, slated to begin next month. The committee approved the project at an estimated cost of $34 million. Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal for 2021-22, which is still making its way through the state legislature, calls for $16.5 million in capital funds for phase three of the Hillman renovations.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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