Chatham Center

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Chatham Center
Pittsburgh, PA
Chatham One Building at Chatham Center
Chatham One Building at Chatham Center
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Chatham Center in Pittsburgh
General information
Typecommercial and residential
Architectural stylemodern
LocationDowntown Pittsburgh
Address112 Washington Place
Town or cityPittsburgh, PA
CountryUSA
Coordinates40°26′21.67″N 79°59′32″W / 40.4393528°N 79.99222°W / 40.4393528; -79.99222
Construction started1964-10-20
Completed1966-09-07
Cost$26 million USD
Technical details
Other dimensions5.5 acre complex
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Lescaze
Main contractorDiesel Construction Company
 
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Chatham Center
Pittsburgh, PA
Chatham One Building at Chatham Center
Chatham One Building at Chatham Center
Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh
Chatham Center in Pittsburgh
General information
Typecommercial and residential
Architectural stylemodern
LocationDowntown Pittsburgh
Address112 Washington Place
Town or cityPittsburgh, PA
CountryUSA
Coordinates40°26′21.67″N 79°59′32″W / 40.4393528°N 79.99222°W / 40.4393528; -79.99222
Construction started1964-10-20
Completed1966-09-07
Cost$26 million USD
Technical details
Other dimensions5.5 acre complex
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Lescaze
Main contractorDiesel Construction Company

Chatham Center is a 5.5 acre commercial and residential building complex located within Downtown Pittsburgh. It is bounded by the Interstate 579 (Crosstown Boulevard) on the west, Centre Avenue on the north, Washington Place on the east, and Fifth Avenue to the south. Comprising a 2,200 car parking garage, Marriott Hotel, luxury condominium building, and office and retail space, Chatham Center is a major destination center with the new Consol Energy Center and Duquesne University nearby.

History[edit]

Chatham Center was named after the Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, for whom Pittsburgh is named. Groundbreaking for the project occurred with much fireworks and fanfare the evening of October 20, 1964. The complex was built between 1964 - 1966 by Chatham Center Inc, of which the principal investors were Morton S. Wolf and Leon Falk Jr.[1] Financing for construction was provided by the Irving Trust Company of New York and the Mellon National Bank of Pittsburgh with the mortgage for the center being held by the Prudential Insurance Company. The architects for the project were William Lescaze and Harry H. Lefkowitz while the construction was by the Diesel Construction Company of Pittsburgh.[1]

Prior to construction, four downtown Pittsburgh hotels waged an unsuccessful two-year court battle that was appealed all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opposing the construction on the grounds that there were already too many hotel rooms in downtown Pittsburgh and further hotel construction would hinder current hotel business in the city.[2]

Original plans[edit]

The original plans for the center called for a 20 floor luxury apartment building; nine-story office building with a "sky lobby" for a hotel above; a 650-seat movie theater; a 2,200 car garage and gas station at a cost of $26 million.[1]

The building plans were delayed by labor strikes and absent building materials, but was finally completed by 1966. The day long dedication and open house occurred on September 7, 1966 with a ceremonial "light-switch" thrown by Richard K. Mellon.[3]

Multiple owners[edit]

Chatham Center Inc continued to operate the center until 1975 when Prudential was able to foreclose on the mortgage and bought the entire Chatham Center facility at sheriff's sale for $19 million. Chatham Center Inc, headed by Leon Falk Jr, had defaulted on mortgage payments and was $2.1 million behind in property taxes.[4]

Prudential made many changes while owner of Chatham Center. In 1976, the hotel changed from a Howard Johnson's to a Hyatt House. The Chatham apartment building was converted to a condominium in 1981 and Chatham Two was built as the final phase to completing the entire Chatham Center concept envisioned in the 1960s.[5]

In 1988, Prudential sold its interest in Chatham Center for $36.2 million to Elteq Equities Inc and included Chatham One and Two buildings in addition to the parking garage. Elteq Management Company assumed management of the center and renovated the parking garage shortly after the sale.[5]

Buildings and Plaza[edit]

Chatham Center consists of three highrise buildings and a plaza built on top of a 2,200 car parking garage. The center originally contained a 650 seat movie theater in the south east corner.

Chatham Tower Condominium[edit]

Chatham Tower Condominium building from Sixth Ave.
Chatham Tower Condominium

The Chatham Tower Condominium building was built as a luxury apartment building and was part of the original plans for Chatham Center. The apartment tower comprised 180 apartments and opened for tenants on May 1, 1966. J.J. Gumberg Company was named rental agent in 1967. This luxury residential building became a premier Pittsburgh address and home to many distinguished Pittsburgh residents over the decades.[6]

In 1981, the Prudential Insurance Company, then owner of Chatham Center, converted the apartment building into a luxury condominium. The new condomiunium project was named, "The Tower, A Condominium at Chatham Center" (often referred to as Chatham Tower Condominium),[5] and opened with a gala celebration on December 6, 1981. Since opening, the condominium building has continued to be a premier residential address in Pittsburgh. In 2010, the building completed an extensive interior renovation project.

Chatham One[edit]

The Chatham One highrise building was part of the original plan for Chatham Center and is a mixed use building. The first nine stories contain 230,000 square feet (21,000 m2) of office space and are separate from the top 11 floors which contain a hotel.

Early tenants of the office space included Travelers Insurance, Westinghouse Electric, and the National Steel Corporation. Today, major tenants include UPMC, Askesis Development Group, and the Pittsburgh Penguins offices.

When originally opened in 1966, the hotel on the upper half of the building was a 450 room Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge. The Motor Lodge included a pool on the eleventh floor, a bar, restaurant, and signature Red Coach Grille. The Chatham Center Howard Johnson was designed to be an upscale hotel version of the traditional road-side Howard Johnson.[7] Hyatt Corp took over the hotel site in 1976 and renamed the hotel, the Pittsburgh Hyatt House at Chatham Center. Extensive renovations took place and the number of hotel rooms were reduced to 406.[4] The hotel made one last change in 1996 when it was sold to Marriott and underwent a new $8 million renovation. The number of rooms were reduced to 396 rooms and six suites and is currently operated under the name of the Pittsburgh Marriott City Center Hotel.[8]

Chatham Two[edit]

Chatham Two is a 16-story, 340,000 square feet (32,000 m2) highrise office building built between 1980 - 1981. It was planned by then owner, Prudential Insurance Company, and was considered the first of many highrises built during Pittsburgh's Renaissance II building boom of the 1980s. The entire building is dedicated to office space and was 75% pre-leased prior to completion. The Chatham Two building is in the modernist style of architecture and is completely covered in mirrored glass and aluminum framing. It was designed by the architectural firm of Burt Hill Kosar Rittleman Associates and construction was by Mellon-Stuart Co.[9]

Two Chatham Center building and plaza view in Pittsburgh, PA.
Two Chatham Center building and Plaza

Plaza[edit]

The 4.5 acre landscaped plaza at Chatham Center received its first complete renovation after 40 years in 2007 and was designed by Fabringer, McCarty, Grey Inc of Monroeville, Pennsylvania. A new central fountain was created surrounded by trees and walkways with floral landscaping and ornamental grasses. The plaza is used daily by residents and guests to Chatham Center.[10]

Chatham Cinema
Chatham Cinema

Chatham Cinema[edit]

The Chatham Cinema was part of the original plan for Chatham Center and opened on October 25, 1966 with a pre-screening of the movie, "Alfie". The cinema's palatial decor was in the American Revolutionary style with period antiques throughout the lobby and movie seats with reclining backs.[11] The cinema closed in 1985. The facade has since been bricked up. It was located in the south east corner of Chatham Center on the corner of Washington Place and Fifth Avenue. There was also an entrance to the cinema from the parking garage.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Vince Johnson, "Fireworks and Fanfare Hail Chatham Center", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 21, 1964
  2. ^ Vince Johnson, "Hill to Get Five-Acre City-In-City", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 29, 1964
  3. ^ "Dedication at Chatham", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 8, 1966
  4. ^ a b Jonathan Williams, "Hyatt Takes Over Chatham Center Hotel Operations", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 6, 1976
  5. ^ a b c Sam Spatter, "Prudential Sells Stake in Chatham Center", The Pittsburgh Press, April 30, 1988
  6. ^ "Chatham Center Manager Named", The Pittsburgh Press, January 14, 1967
  7. ^ "Chatham Center". Highwayhost.org. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  8. ^ "New Digs, Top Rates", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 30, 1996, Page C-5
  9. ^ Bill Steig, "Chatham Two Opens with a Party", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 29, 1981
  10. ^ "Master Plan of Chatham Center Plaza", Fabringer, McCarty, Gray Inc architectural landscape plan, 2007
  11. ^ James Kastner, "When the Movies Played in Downtown Pittsburgh", page 254, Dorance Publishing, 2011
  12. ^ Kaspar Monahan, "Unique Film Theater for Chatham Center", The Pittsburgh Press, July 24, 1965

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