Rendering courtesy of Stark Enterprises.

Downtown Pittsburgh’s building boom continues.

Last week, the Cleveland-based property developer Stark Enterprises received approval for historic building tax credits on the long-gestating Icon on Smithfield redevelopment project. The building originally opened in 1918 as the Frank & Seder department store.

Managers of the project say the assistance will allow them to begin construction early next year, while preserving the intricate (some would even say iconic) stone facade of the building. Stark partnered with the design firm DLR Group.

The vision for the space is a modern, mixed-use development featuring luxury apartments as well as retail and dining options at the street level. The company has confirmed that they already have an agreement with the Boston-based Davio’s, which specializes in steak and Italian cuisine.

Speaking to the media after the announcement, Stark Enterprises Vice President of Development Steve Coven declined to name which other businesses and restaurants would be setting up shop in the building, saying only that announcements will be made in “the coming weeks.”

Previous reports on the project speculated that it may include karaoke, bowling and perhaps even a Target.

According to a statement on the company website, “this historic renovation offers state-of-the-art retail and office space in a location that provides unique access to the city’s business and social assets.”

Stark Enterprises originally bought the building for $10.4 million from Oxford Development Co. in January 2017. All told, they estimate the project will cost around $63 million and eventually include around 40 luxury apartments.

Rendering courtesy of Stark Enterprises.

The development is only the latest in a long line of redevelopments and new construction projects that are slowly but surely remaking Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Icon will only be a few blocks from the massive and newly opened Point Park Playhouse as well as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s ambitious plan to redevelop vacant buildings and the parking garage at 9th Street and Penn Avenue into as many as 800 to 900 housing units.

“In 2018, expect to see ground broken on 13 new residential development projects which are anticipated to deliver 1,335 units over the next three years,” says a report from the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

The report points out that the greater Downtown’s population has grown by 25 percent (that’s 3,000 residents) since 2010. Occupancy has increased to 94 percent from 89 percent a year ago.

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.