Kaufmann's Grand
Photo courtesy of the Kaufmann's Grand wesbite.

The Kaufmann’s department store was once one of Downtown Pittsburgh’s most beloved landmarks and meeting spots. In recent years, it’s mostly been a vacant eyesore. If a new ownership group has its way, Pittsburghers will meet here once again —this time, ice skating together on the roof.

After years of problems and slowdowns, Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth Avenue is moving forward with the new development team of Philadelphia-based Lubert-Adler Real Estate Funds and Adventurous Journeys Capital Partners of Chicago, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. They plan to invest $40 million in the project.

Among those investments will be a rooftop ice rink — which is pretty unique for any city. It could be a Rockefeller Center type of attraction, open to residents and the public. In the summer, the rooftop will have a swimming pool and a garden.

Recently, a 22,000-square-foot Target store was announced for the 13-story building, bringing some street-level vibrancy back to what was once a very busy retail corridor along Smithfield Street. The developers are in talks with “two other major retailers” to take space on the first and second floors, Lubert-Adler CEO Dean Adler told the Post-Gazette. He could not be reached by NEXTPittsburgh for comment.

They are also looking to add awnings and outdoor dining space to the building’s exterior.

The lobby will be completely redone, with wood floors added to help bring back some of the grandeur of the historic department store.

There are 311 apartments planned for the development. According to the Post-Gazette, approximately one-third of the units still have to be completed. Some are currently occupied by residents. The development also includes the 160-room Even Hotel, which is now open.

Additional new amenities will include special rooms for online Zoom meetings, fitness spaces and private coworking suites. There will also be three elevators instead of the current single one.

The developers hope to have the rink finished by the end of 2021.

The Kaufmann’s building was purchased by Core Realty in 2015 for $15 million. The redevelopment has been slow and plagued with problems, lawsuits and liens. Core will remain in the investment group, but won’t be part of operating the development, according to the Post-Gazette.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife,...