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Pittsburgh URA to vote Monday on buying former Pittsburgh Art Institute building

July 14, 2018

Pittsburgh is considering a proposal to buy 420 Boulevard of the Allies for $38 million and move several city departments and authorities into the building.

The Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority has scheduled a vote for Monday on the $27.5 million purchase of a Downtown building that would become the new home of the URA, Pittsburgh Housing Authority and several key city offices.

City officials announced Thursday that they were considering buying the building at 420 Boulevard of the Allies, which most recently housed the Pittsburgh Art Institute, and moving the two authorities and city offices there from the John P. Robin Civic Building at 200 Ross St, which is jointly owned by the city, URA and housing authority.

The purchase and move are subject to approval of the URA, Housing Authority and Pittsburgh City Council.

URA board members are scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Monday for a vote on the building acquisition and a loan of up to $39.5 million. The money would be used for the building purchase and renovation for city offices. Board members will also vote on an authorization to hire the Downtown firm of Strada LLC. for $1 million to design the retrofit.

The Housing Authority board of directors has scheduled a vote for July 26. Tim McNulty, spokesman for Mayor Bill Peduto, said the office has yet to submit a resolution to City Council for approval.

City officials have been debating a move from the Civic Building for more than 10 years, saying it is plagued with chronic malfunctioning internal systems and does not meet current safety standards. The Civic Building, dating to 1907, was the former headquarters of J&L Steel. The URA bought it in 1952.

The building on Boulevard of the Allies is owned by Chicago-based M&J Wilkow, which recently completed an $11 million renovation to convert it for lease as offices. Calls to the company were not returned.

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