When McKnight Realty Partners bought the Henry W. Oliver Building in 2011, the property was headed toward foreclosure and had lost its major tenant. It was a tough time for real estate in Downtown Pittsburgh and in other parts of the country with the recession in full swing. Mellon Square had fallen into disrepair, the nearby James Reed office building was vacant, and Lord & Taylor had long since abandoned its Downtown Pittsburgh location.
But four years later, the view from the Oliver Building has changed. A PNC Bank call center is now housed in the former Lord & Taylor building, a Hotel Monaco opened earlier this year in the Reed building, and in two weeks’ time, a 225-room Embassy Suites hotel will open on the Oliver Building’s top ten floors.
“When you think about how much has been spent on development just in this square alone, it’s impressive,” says Izzy Rudolph project manager for McKnight Realty Partners which purchased the property in 2011 for $12.5 million.
The views from the Embassy Suites guest rooms are of a transformed Mellon Square area and a thriving Downtown. The scenic vistas include the Mon Incline, home plate at PNC Park, and from corner suites a view of both the Ohio and Monongahela rivers, as well as the Downtown Pittsburgh skyline.
Rooms have understated design and layout and lots of space. Each piece of furniture has a piece of metal in it, Rudolph notes, a callback to the Oliver Iron and Steel Company.
Many of the architectural details of the historic Oliver Building, built in 1910, have been preserved in the new hotel design, especially in the lobby where its high ceilings and marble finishes provide a dramatic entrance.
The Embassy Suites joins an ever growing group of hotels in Pittsburgh but Rudolph says while the upscale Fairmont, the hip Ace Hotel and the quirky Hotel Monaco all have a niche, the Embassy Suites is an attractive option for families traveling with kids since every room is a suite.
Also likely of interest to families will be the indoor pool on the 25th floor and Elevation, a restaurant with a focus on locally-sourced ingredients which will serve American comfort food. It opens at the end of January. The hotel’s bar, also on the 25th floor, will be called Ollie’s Gastropub. A ballroom and conference center on the building’s second floor will be right above Mellon Square and available to hotel guests.
The soft open is still two weeks away and all 225 rooms will be ready by Jan. 12. A grand opening is planned for March, Rudolph says.