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Conference Applauds Area’s Retail Boom

PITTSBURGH PENNSYLVANIA, June 30, 2005 By Michael Yeomans, TRIBUNE-REVIEW Thursday, June 30, 2005 Developers are moving mountains – quite literally – to bring Western Pennsylvanians exciting new shopping alternatives over the next five years. At the same time, with more than 5.5 million square feet of new stores in the pipeline in Allegheny County alone on the South Side, along Route 28,and in Collier, Robinson and Ohio townships, some commercial real estate executives are wondering whether the region is reaching its retail saturation point. Those who say the Pittsburgh-area consumers are still hungry for more shopping choices could point to the announcement Wednesday that a second Pittsburgh-area Whole Foods market could be an anchor tenant of the proposed $120 million Collier Crossing development at the site of the former Trader Jack flea market in Collier. “Retailers discover they can be successful in the Pittsburgh market, and they tell other retailers of that success,” said broker Hugh “Herky” Pollock of CB Richard Ellis/Pittsburgh. “That encourages other retailers, either not in the market or already here and considering expansion, to open new or more units here.” The Collier project’s developer, Goldenberg Group Inc., was one of a half-dozen who pitched their local properties to commercial brokers from across the country in town this week for the International Council of Shopping Centers 10th annual Pittsburgh Idea Exchange at the Westin Convention Center Hotel. The crowd applauded the flurry of retail activity going on in the area, including next month’s debut of the 1.1 million square foot Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills. But the question arose after the presentations were finished whether a region with a static population base can support a further slicing of the available disposable income pie. Edward Ginn, a broker from Equity Properties Inc. of Philadelphia, said he believes the region is approaching its limit for retail development. Terry Hall, of Morgantown, W.Va.-based Jager Management Group, said area shoppers will flock to new properties like the Mills development or The Soffer Organization’s South Side Works that offer something new and different. But when they do, he said, they will decrease the spending currently done at other outlets like Ross Park Mall. Goldenberg executive Peter Farnum said that Whole Foods, the Austin, Texas-based upscale grocer that opened its first area store three years ago in East Liberty, has signed a letter of intent to come to the $120 million Collier Crossing development. Another tenant who has signed a preliminary agreement is Target. Michael Yeomans can be reached at [email protected] or (412) 320-7908.