Local housing construction surges in July, August |

Local housing construction surges in July, August

Pittsburgh area housing starts have equaled last year’s totals for the first eight months of the year, thanks to an increase of 17 percent in July and 18 percent in August over the same months last year, according to Pittsburgh Construction News. That brought totals for the year to 2,120 units, compared to 2,124 units for 2002, said Jeff Burd, president, whose firm tracks actual starts for both residential and non-residential projects in western Pennsylvania. Value of the houses started during July and August reached $143 million, an increase of 22 percent over the same months in 2002, and Burd is predicting 3,000 single-family houses will be started this year along with 1,800 apartment or attached units.

St. Vincent renovation

St. Vincent College is planning a $3.2 million renovation of Aurelius Hall for the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government. College officials said the project will create more space for faculty offices, conference and classrooms, and several small business incubator offices. The project involves refurbishing of about 20,000 square feet on several floors of Aurelius Hall, which served as a residence for college freshmen for many years but was put out of service last year. A ceremony is scheduled today at 5 p.m. on the grounds in front of Aurelius Hall.

Serbian steel production

U.S. Steel Corp. expects its recently acquired Sartid a.d. to produce 900,000 tons in its first year of operation under the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. U.S. Steel completed its acquisition of the bankrupt Serbian steelmaker earlier this month for about $23 million. U.S. Steel said it believes the facility is capable of producing 2.4 million tons in future years and expects the new unit to contribute 3 percent to revenues over the next three years.

NEP names new CEO

NEP Broadcasting Llc, a Harmar Township-based provider of remote production facilities for major sporting events and concerts, in addition to operating several New York television studios and post-production services, has named Peter Michel as president and chief executive officer. Michel served as chief executive of Brink’s Home Security of Irving, Texas, from 1988 to 2002.He assumes the duties of NEP founders Debra Honkus and Thomas Shelburne. Two acuisitions this year doubled the size of NEP to about $100 million in revenue.

Alcoa targets safety

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa Inc. is trying to identify health and safety priorities by publishing real-time tracking of its global lost work day rate on its Internet site. Lost work day rate measures the number of injuries, which result in lost workdays per 200,000 hours worked. The aluminum manfacturer said 372 of its 486 operating locations worldwide have had no lost workdays for the past year, and its lost work day rate has shown an 85 percent improvement since 1992.

Other business news:

  • Gasoline prices in western Pennsylvania dropped over seven cents this week, according to AAA East Central. The AAA Fuel Gauge Report showed the average price paid for a gallon of regular, unleaded self-serve gasoline in western Pennsylvania this week was $1.599, down from $1.670 last week. One year ago, the average price paid for the same fuel was $1.40 cents a gallon.

  • G. Richard Wagoner Jr., Chairman of General Motors Corp., the world’s largest auto maker, will be in Monroeville Friday to celebrate the opening of the #1 Cochran GM MegaCenter, said to be the largest GM dealership in the eastern U.S.

  • Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania agreed to purchase for roughly $136 million Roxborough Manayunk Bank, Philadelphia, which operates 15 branches in eastern Pennsylvania.

  • Pittsburgh-area stocks rose on Tuesday. The Bloomberg Pittsburgh Index of 67 stocks gained 0.70 to 188.90.

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