The 350 Oliver garage, which will be topped Photo by Indovina Associates Architects.

When the new 350 Oliver garage opens Downtown in late November, its owners will turn their attention toward developing nine stories of condominiums on top.

Smithfield Oliver Phase 2 Partners LP, a joint venture of McKnight Realty Partners and Millcraft Investments, is aiming to start construction in March and complete the 86 housing units by summer of 2019, says Izzy Rudolph, McKnight’s president of development and acquisitions.

The Lumiere Residences will get their name from the French word for “light.”

“We’re exploring the idea of using some interesting light features on the exterior of the building,” Rudolph says. He puts the price tag of the construction project at between $35 million and $37 million.

A rendering by Indovina Associates Architects of the proposed Lumiere Residences at 350 Oliver, Downtown.

Twenty percent of the condos will be one-bedroom “workforce units” priced at below $300,000, which Rudolph says translates to a monthly mortgage of around $1,500 before taxes. He shies away from using the term “affordable” because of its association with government-subsidized housing.

These units, less than 1,000 square feet, would cost less than some rentals in the city, Rudolph says.

“Some people are used to condos being all luxury units, all higher end, aimed at $1 million-plus per unit,” he says. “The word ‘affordable’ has a bad connotation. These are not lower-end units; they’re just smaller.”

The decision to present the Pittsburgh Planning Commission with a plan to build condos is a return to an initial idea for the property, where Saks Fifth Avenue was once located. Even though McKnight developed the Embassy Suites nearby in its Oliver Building on Smithfield Street, the partners had decided to build apartments and a hotel above the garage, but have switched back to condos.

Downtown is home to several new hotels and two remain in development — one at Fort Pitt Boulevard and one in the former Macy’s department store on Fifth Avenue.

Designed by Indovina Associates Architects, the Lumiere condominiums will add nine stories plus a 10th floor roof terrace to the seven-floor garage. The exterior will be clad in aluminum and painted profiled metal, according to the proposal submitted to city planners.

The garage will open November 26, says Rudolph, and will be accessible only by Oliver Avenue.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.