Oxford enters luxury-apartments market in Pittsburgh; 1st project: bicycle-friendly Hot Metal Flats

By Tom Fontaine

A Downtown firm plans to start developing its first two luxury apartment buildings in Pittsburgh this year, having focused on hotel and government projects outside the city for the past decade, company officials said.

“Now we want to focus all of our efforts in Pittsburgh and in Western Pennsylvania,” said Shawn Fox, director of business development and marketing for Oxford Development Co.

Construction on the first project — a five-story, 117-unit building known as Hot Metal Flats — could begin at SouthSide Works by mid-April. It is expected to cost $30 million.

Oxford initially received the OK to build an eight-story, 173-unit complex, but the $40 million price tag proved too high, Fox said.

The city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority is expected to vote on Thursday on Oxford’s revised plans. It also will consider providing a $2 million loan to help finance the project and selling land to Oxford for the project for more than $600,000.

Fox said Hot Metal Flats will consist of studios and one- and two-bedroom apartments — all with granite countertops, hardwood floors and walk-in closets. It will be particularly bicycle-friendly, with a bike-washing area, repair shop, nearly 70 bicycle-storage areas and easy access to trails. Average rents will range from $1,100 to $2,200 a month.

Oxford also plans to start construction on a 299-unit development known as Three Crossings in the Strip District this fall, Fox said.

The projects are part of an emerging luxury-apartment market in Pittsburgh, marked by fully occupied developments that include the 298-unit Cork Factory and 96-unit Lot 24 in the Strip District; and the 87-unit Brix at 26 in the South Side.

“The new apartment projects will drive the area’s long-term success. Making the pie bigger is better for everyone,” said Jim Scalo, president of Green Tree-based Burns & Scalo, which developed the Brix.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.