Friday, March 09, 2012

City Living

So an overly curious mind has me wondering what the state of the Downtown condo market is of late. Just thinking because I first saw this note of a refinancing of Piatt Place, aka the former Lazarus, aka once the center of all dire talk on the future of Downtown. News said it was able to get a refinancing for $33 million and I just wanted to see how that compared to its new assessment value. That got a bit too complicated to do quickly since I can't tell what exactly was being refinanced. It is a condo unit so I presume the refinancing is for that part of the building Millcraft or related entities own.

But it got me poking back at this PG article from 3 years ago: Downtown condo sales are going well in some spots, not so well in others. Specifically it said at the time that "About a block away, at the former Lazarus-Macy's store, 34 of 60 luxury condos priced from $300,000 have been sold. Only six of those sales have come since August.".  There is a later quote that says ".... Downtown is the hottest market in Pittsburgh."  Pretty declarative statements.

Since the new assessment data is out I was curious what those units have all sold for. Since it implies 57% of the units were already sold 3 years ago, it must be mostly sold by now I thought. I dunno. In the assessment records I count 66 residential condo units with a property address of 301 Fifth Ave in Downtown Pittsburgh. Of those 66 units, 28 have listed as their owner "Piatt Place Downtown Pittsburgh Residential LP". At first blush it implies 28 units are unsold as yet. Spot checking those 28 units find no transaction history in the assessment records.

So I leave it as a question whether those units, or more generally how many Downtown condos built over the last decade, are sold as yet. A question that comes up on occassion is related to all that. For the units that are sold, are they all permanent residents here. There is a sense many are not the primary residences of the owners. Plenty of rich diasporans out there who might want a stake in the hometown is a theory. Nothing wrong with that all, but it does get to the question of what the impact is on population. I presume some unsold condo's could be rented out though I am not privy to what the condo bylaws allow.  No doubt there are new people living Downtown over the last decade, I am just wondering how many and whether the fairly significant investment in the new Downtown condo-collective has sparked a sustaining (i.e. non-subsidized) private sector market there yet.

So just some questions... or stories to follow up on.


Anonymous BrianTH said...

Almost every investor (aside from a couple small projects in the Cultural District) seems to still be favoring apartment projects for Downtown residential. I think that is indirect confirmation that condo sales Downtown are still far from robust.

That said, those recent increases in home purchases across the Metro and in Allegheny County may be evidence that some renters are now committing to buying. If so, it is conceivable condo sales Downtown will start doing better.

Friday, March 09, 2012 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous kejad said...

So, my question is: are we still using taxpayer dollars to subsidize new construction? (Preferential tax treatment, financial terms, regulatory approvals, et al, are included in my definition of 'subsidy'.)

It seems to me like real estate is definitely an area that private investors will take on if the demand is there, but it feels like we in Pittsburgh believe that creating unwanted supply will magically create demand instead of just depressing prices by squandering tax dollars. I'd prefer to see my tax dollars used to tear down underutilized assets: that's something the markets don't seem to do a good job at. The taxes are better utilized by sending our leaders to CMU or Pitt to take econ 101.

Friday, March 09, 2012 12:02:00 PM  

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