Planned Smallman Place condos in Strip District selling fast |
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Planned Smallman Place condos in Strip District selling fast

Tom Fontaine
Developer Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures Inc. expects construction on the Smallman Place condos to begin this summer and last for about a year. (This is a rendering.)

Sales agreements are in place for about two-thirds of the 36 condominiums that a suburban Philadelphia developer is planning in the Strip District, months before construction is set to begin.

The Smallman Place condos went on the market in the first week of April.

“If you have the right project at the right place and the right price, you can be successful,” said developer Jack Benoff of Solara Ventures Inc.

Benoff has been one of Pittsburgh’s most active condo developers in recent years. He converted 941 Penn Ave., Downtown, and the Otto Milk building in the Strip District into condo buildings that sold out quickly, with the exception of a $1.8 million penthouse at Otto Milk that’s now under agreement.

The Smallman Place condos, on Smallman Street across from Otto Milk, range from about $260,000 to $600,000. Two buyers opted to buy two condos apiece — making combined units of about 2,500 square feet.

Benoff said he’s “very proud” of the brisk sales, noting an appraiser predicted sales of about two units a month. He said the buyers include downsizing empty nesters moving from the suburbs, recent transplants to Western Pennsylvania and young professionals. None has children, he said.

Benoff expects construction to begin this summer and last for about a year.

The condo supply is scarce in Pittsburgh’s Greater Downtown, which includes the Golden Triangle, North Shore, South Shore, most of the Strip District, the Lower Hill District and Uptown. A Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership analysis shows 952 condos exist or are in the pipeline, compared with 6,475 apartments.

“There is definitely more demand than supply for condos,” said John Valentine, executive director of the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corp.

“The market here has been more geared toward apartments, because there was a lot of pent-up demand for apartments. But I believe many of today’s renters, people in their early 20s to early 40s, will become tomorrow’s condo purchasers, and there won’t be this lopsided of a ratio” between apartments and condos, Valentine said.

“The question is: Will there be enough of a condo supply in Greater Downtown when they’re ready to buy?”

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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