Union Trust Rotunda

The Union Trust Building is finally getting the attention it deserves.

After changing ownership several times in the last few decades and falling to an occupancy rate of just 40 percent, the Union Trust Building was sold at a foreclosure auction in March 2014 for a cool $14 million. Its new owner, Boston-based firm The Davis Companies, has big plans for downtown’s Flemish-Gothic beauty.

The Davis Companies is redesigning the 500,000 square feet of retail, office and amenity space. The 40,000-square-foot, ground-floor retail space will include a coffee shop and restaurants open to the public. Tenant amenities will include underground parking, secure bike storage, a 5,200-square-foot fitness center, and 12,600 square feet of conference and lecture facilities. And the office spaces will be upgraded to Class-A, 21st-century standards.

Their plans have already won over two tech companies that have signed on for more than 30,000 square feet of space.

San Francisco-based Jawbone, creators of wearable technology—i.e. wristbands that monitor activity levels and sleep quality—along with consumer products such as mini-speakers and headsets, signed on last month. They are leasing a space that combines the building’s historic features with high-tech lab space and an open, two-story space highlighted with skylights.

Truefit relocated its headquarters from Cranberry, PA to the Grant Street location and is Jawbone’s neighbor in these top-floor suites.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something much bigger than us,” says Truefit’s CEO and founder Darrin Grove. “We’ve had a vision for a center of innovation downtown. Pittsburgh is great for innovation but there are not many points of connectivity for that. This will be a building created for collaboration. An entire floor will be dedicated to co-working space and start-ups.”

His company works with early stage companies—and large companies that need to innovate—to create and build software. They take clients from the ideas to finished products by offering design, research and engineering services.

Two tenants—AMEC Foster Wheeler and Novitas Solutions—already call the Union Trust building home.

Built for Henry Clay Frick to be a shopping arcade, the 1917 building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Frick commissioned architect Frederick J. Osterling who designed some 27 buildings in western Pennsylvania, including the Heinz Factories and the Chautauqua Lake Ice Company Warehouse, now the Heinz History Center, and the remodel of Clayton, Henry Clay Frick’s home on Penn Avenue.

Union Trust Building Pittsburgh PA

The Union Trust’s architecture is renowned among architecture buffs for its mansard roof with terracotta dormers and chapel-like towers. Its interior has a show-stopping, 11-story central rotunda, which is topped off with a stained glass dome.

The Davis Companies founder, Jonathan Davis says, “As a Pittsburgh native, the opportunity to transform this building into a first-class 21st-century workplace, and to closely collaborate with Mayor Peduto and his administration to draw growing businesses downtown, was irresistible.”

“This building follows the story of Pittsburgh”, says Grove. “It’s turn-of-the century iconic Pittsburgh, but as Pittsburgh has gone from industrial to tech, it’s followed that arc, and the Union Trust will now house tech companies collaborating and creating innovative products.”

The $35 million renovation is slated to be wrapped up in early 2016.

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore her hometown.