Forging Ahead: Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth
If you or your family grew up in Pittsburgh then Kaufmann’s Department Store most likely holds a special place in your heart. The homegrown department store was a fixture for locals looking for everything from bathing suits to wedding china with the Downtown flagship location sweetening the deal with its Tic-Toc Restaurant (among others), holiday windows, and stunning architecture. When the store changed over to Macy’s, the brand was remembered as if it was a good friend that moved away. No one ever said “meet me by Macy’s”, It was always Kaufmann’s. So its fitting that in its new life, the name that built the iconic Smithfield & Fifth Ave store will be back Downtown as Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth. And the new owner’s aim to bring that reverence and pride back to the iconic property with a project that is ambitious to say the least!
The project, which is set to open in phases, will be home to 311 apartments, ground-level retail, office space and a hotel. While that seems like a lot going on, think back to memories of walking from homewares where your Grandma was buying pillows to menswear where she was buying your Grandpa socks, to realize that ‘The Big Store’ was just that. In total, the block contains over 1 million square feet of floor space.
The first phase will include the apartments which are set to be some of the swankiest units Downtown. The studio, 1BR & 2BR units all feature ‘smart’ technology that will allow you to control everything from your phone. And we are talking everything: lock, thermostat, blinds, TV (which two smart TVs will be included in each unit). Gourmet cook’s kitchens with islands open up to living spaces with major city views. Don’t feel like cooking? There are plans for round the clock room-service through the property’s restaurant. The bathrooms will feature spa-like showers with multiple wall jets making upgrading your morning routine in a big way. And if this all sounds like you won’t want to leave your apartment, wait til you hear about the amenities.
Kaufmann’s will be the first to the Downtown market with resort like amenities on their rooftop. Plans call for an infinity pool, a tennis court, running track and lounges with grills. And just to make it all the more amazing, a rooftop restaurant and bar overlooking the pool. Rooftop amenities are set to open just in time to make all your friends jealous in summer 2018. More tradition but still equally impressive amenities include a fitness center with virtual fitness equipment, cycling stations, pilates/yoga studio; an integrated garage, a bike room, lobby with concierge and more.
With these incredible units wrapped up, the next phase will include ground-level retail (with rumors of major entertainment options and restaurants in the mix), the completion of the 160-room Even Hotel and office floor plates. All told the project carries a price tag of $100 million plus. And while I’m sure Mr. Kaufmann would have loved his iconic store to stay a 13-floor department store, I’m pretty sure he’d be happy to know his building and legacy are ushering the next generation of Downtown Pittsburgh living and vibrancy.
Fun Fact: Owner Edgar G. Kaufmann’s love of architecture is well documented and far exceeds his Fifth Ave store. Kaufmann commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build Fallingwater as well as the top-floor executive offices at the Downtown Kaufmann’s (salvaged and on display at Victoria and Albert Museum in London) and architect Richard Neutra to build the Kaufmann House in Palm Springs. Both homes, though totally different in form, are considered to be among the finest examples of American Architecture in history.