Steve Guy offers Oxford’s outlook for 2021
It has been a strange and difficult year, to say the least. And while we faced many challenges and were required to think differently to solve new problems, we’ve enjoyed several successes as well. We remain optimistic that a steady recovery is on the horizon, but we also know the way we do business is forever changed.
The pandemic brought about a renewed interest in building health, safety, and cleanliness of facilities of all shapes and sizes. Staff at the Doubletree Monroeville were able to help provide over 240,000 meals through our partnership with Operation BBQ Relief. Our team at the Monroeville Convention Center assisted the Food Bank so that they could package food for emergency distributions that were greater than ever in 2020. In late December we entered into an agreement with the Allegheny County Department of Health to allow event space at the DoubleTree Hotel in Monroeville to be a COVID-19 mass vaccination site beginning this month.
Our property management division continued to see steady growth, adding 1 million square feet of managed space in 2020, and we do not see that slowing. Our multifamily residential management division will also expand this year, as we prepare to launch Helm on the Allegheny and several new engagements for condominium management are underway with more in process.
Helm on the Allegheny at 23rd and Railroad Street, a project which Oxford is co-developing with Steel Street Capital Partners in partnership with The ERECT Funds and the Strategic Investment Fund, moved forward during 2020 and is expected to be delivered for occupancy in the third quarter of 2021. This project is the first development in the Strip District that includes a substantial element of affordable housing and has the most diverse offering of unit types including the first of its kind in Pittsburgh “Intentional Co-living”.
Progress at 3 Crossings, our signature development in the Strip District, continues to move along. Smith+Nephew has taken occupancy at The Stacks, and 75 Hopper Place enjoyed it’s topping off ceremony amid the pandemic – a tribute to the hard and careful work of our design and development team and our partners in the trades. The Hive, our second garage at 3 Crossings, will service more than just vehicles and is currently in planning and development. Perhaps our largest achievement at 3 Crossings last year was the strategic ground sale of our phase 1 parcels that enabled us to move phase 2 forward. I would be remiss to not give thanks to the hard work and dedication of our financial and legal teams that made this happen.
Factory 26, also a component of 3 Crossings Phase 2, located between 26th and 27th streets along Smallman Street, also moved forward during the last quarter of 2020. The project is now fully funded, has received the necessary development permits, and is set for tenant delivery early in the fourth quarter of 2021. Factory 26 is a true tech-flex facility that will complement and add to the innovation district that is 3 Crossings.
Pent-up demand for new office space will start to be served. The pandemic did not change the velocity of interest in Pittsburgh, it just changed the timing. We predict that in 2021 conversations will turn into transactions and plans that were kicked down the road will come to fruition. Our clients are taking a hard look at how they use their space and have become more engaged than ever in the space planning process.
If there’s anything that the pandemic proved, it was that our local hospitals don’t just provide critical care to the region but are a huge benefit to living in Pittsburgh. We proudly supported two area hospital networks (AHN and UPMC) in the development of advanced technology medical facilities and with the fit-outs of new clinical space. Now, as ever, our strong regional partnerships will continue to be a backbone to Oxford’s success.
The new year won’t bring about sweeping change, but we are on the precipice of the slow and steady recovery from the last year, and I have confidence that it will be a fruitful and prosperous year. A continued adherence to local, state, and federal guidelines will help speed up that recovery, and we look forward to a time when we can host events at the beautiful The Stacks plaza.
We wish you all the best for a safe and prosperous 2021.