SouthSide Works office project shifts to apartments

A conspicuously open plot at the SouthSide Works expected to be an office building is shifting to apartments.

According to the agenda for Tuesday’s board meeting of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Oxford and partners PJ Dick are planning to drop their plan for a 120,000-square-foot office building on an open site on Hot Metal Street at the SouthSide Works to instead work with Lincoln Property Co. to build a 170-unit apartment building.

Oxford Development Co. President/CEO Steven Guy told me Tuesday morning that the company in its joint venture has struggled to generate tenant interest for a proposed office building at the site, a project that also included CBRE in marketing.

“CBRE and Oxford Realty services have been co-marketing that site for nearly two years, and although we have come close on two or three occasions of getting an anchor tenant to kick it off, nobody has pulled the trigger on it,” Guy said.

The URA’s director’s report details that Oxford and Lincoln plan the 170-unit apartment building along with a garage for 200 cars.

The agenda item calls for entering a new exclusive negotiation period of six months with a partnership of Oxford, PJ Dick and Lincoln, the developer of such established apartment projects in the city as the Encore on 7th and Morgan at North Shore, formerly Lincoln at North Shore.

Typically guarded by habit, Guy offered no specifics on the matter when we talked but it was clear a change in plans was coming. Not only had they not generated an office tenant for the building in two years, but also representatives of American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) announced a few weeks ago that it was seeking to sublease 50,000 square feet of extra office space it leases at SouthSide Works.

The Oxford/CBRE bid would mark the third time a significant office building didn’t go forward on a location between the Circuit Center and the SpringHill Suites hotel near the Hot Metal bridge.

The new plan comes as the Soffer Organization closes in on plans also develop a new apartment project elsewhere at the SouthSide Works.

Guy noted the profusion of apartment projects throughout the region.

“If you look around the marketplace, certainly everybody is looking to build apartments,” he said, while adding that they aren’t always getting built.

I asked Guy about what the level of demand was at SouthSide Works in light of the prospects of Soffer launching its own apartment project.

“I think there’s great demand for apartments on the South Side,” he said. “The question is obviously, are people willing to pay what it costs to build?”

Tim Schooley covers retail, real estate, small business, hospitality, arts and entertainment, government and media. Contact him at or 412-208-3826.