Iconic Wholey’s Building to be Converted into Office Tower
Most Pittsburghers are very familiar with the “Wholey Fish”, a longtime part of the strip district’s personality. Of course, this is nothing to speak of the Robert Wholey Company which stakes its claim as the most well-known seafood grocer in Western PA. While the company isn’t going anywhere, the iconic smiling fish is slated to make way to a brand new office tower. Ultimately, this change in the Pittsburgh skyline is a sign of a healthy commercial real estate market seizing an opportunity to turn a previously all-but-vacant property into a viable working space right next to downtown.
Today, we will review the details of the new construction plans by reviewing the demolition plans, the new office tower which is expected to go up in the place of the Wholey Building, and by discussing a very brief history of the Robert Wholey Company and its tight-knit relationship with the city of Pittsburgh.
Plans to Demolish the Wholey’s Cold Storage Facility
Most folks simply know the large concrete building at the edge of the strip district as the Wholey Building. The proper name of the structure is, in fact, the Federal Cold Storage Building, address 1501 Penn Avenue. The property was purchased in October of 2018 by JMC Holdings, a New York City-based “entrepreneurial real estate company.” Locals might know JMC Holdings from their $15 million project redeveloping The Pennsylvanian.
The commercial real estate property investors have recently announced plans to demolish the Federal Cold Storage Building. This demolition/construction effort will not have an impact on the Wholey Fish Market business which currently operates on Penn Avenue. Wholey’s has been quick to assure customers that while the iconic Wholey Fish might be gone in the near future, the company has barely utilized the cold storage center at 1501 Penn in recent years.
For those of you wondering about the neon fish sign itself, it is not known whether it will make the move to a different building or be retired as part of the demolition.
New 21-Story Office Space to Replace Wholey’s Building
When JMC Holdings purchased 1501 Penn Avenue in 2018, their goal was always to replace the structure with a modern office building filled with top-of-the-line amenities. As the ball has begun to roll with this development effort, we have some additional details on what the building might look like:
21 Stories and 950,000 square feet: The new office building is expected to be significantly larger in overall size than the previous Federal Cold Storage Building.
13 floors and 520,000 square feet dedicated to office space: Initial plans include using the lion’s share of the floors and the overall square footage for office space.
900 car parking capacity and a “footprint” of 17,000 square feet: Transportation amenities will also include a bike shop, convenient bike parking, and a cycling maintenance area.
Amenities including a fitness center, outdoor terrace, large conference rooms, and more: JMC Holdings has openly expressed its desire to take full advantage of the unique zoning in the strip district by offering a wide range of amenities.
JMC Holdings engaged Turner Construction to do preconstruction during the early phase of planning when the project was proposed as an office of less than 300,000 square feet. Before the past holiday season JMC sought new proposals from Turner and PJ Dick/Dick Building Co. No selection has been made for the next preconstruction phase.
The Strip District has been a hotbed for commercial real estate expansion in the past few years. This newest move by JMC Holdings to erect an office building may have an interesting ripple effect across the immediate area and the downtown work environment overall. JMC has just begun the process of getting the site entitled and seeking the zoning variances necessary to build the project. Some officials have expressed skepticism about the project, it’s worth noting that Mayor Peduto’s displeasure with the aesthetics has no planning or zoning authority. There are no official dates for demolition, construction, or completion at this time.