First Commonwealth Bank expanding Downtown, headed to Union Trust

Mark Belko | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

First Commonwealth Bank is expanding its presence in Downtown Pittsburgh.

The Indiana, Pa.-based financial institution literally is moving its Pittsburgh office across the street — from the Frick Building at 437 Grant St. to the Union Trust Building next door.

It has signed a lease with The Davis Companies, the Boston-based owner of Union Trust, to occupy 22,625 square feet on the second floor of the historic building. That is about 4,000 square feet more than it currently leases in the Frick Building.

The decision affects about 50 employees who work at the Downtown office. The bank does not plan to add any workers as part of the move.

“Downtown Pittsburgh is a vital place for our employees to live and work,” Mike Price, First Commonwealth CEO, said in a statement.

The bank will be taking a “spec suite” on the second floor that The Davis Companies built out to final form in hopes of landing a tenant to occupy it as is. While the approach is prevalent in larger markets like Chicago, it is not as common in Pittsburgh.

Jackie Bezek, a Jones Lang LaSalle broker who represented The Davis Companies in the transaction along with JLL’s Jason Stewart, said the spec suite approach saves tenants months in design and construction, and eliminates the risk of cost overruns.

First Commonwealth plans to relocate to the Union Trust Building in the first half of 2019. Its lease in the Frick Building expires at the end of that year. The bank has a 3,500-square-foot branch office on the first floor of Union Trust it has been operating for more than a decade.

For The Davis Companies, the signing brings the building’s occupancy to 87 percent — more than double the 39 percent rate it inherited when it bought the Grant Street landmark at sheriff sale in 2014 for $14 million.

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, one of the region’s largest and most prominent law firms, will be moving in next year from the 45-story One Oxford Centre, also on Grant Street.

“Obviously, the fact that we have a long relationship with First Commonwealth, given that they have been a tenant, makes this an especially satisfying deal to be able to conclude,” said Jonathan Davis, The Davis Companies CEO and founder.

“We are delighted that the property is near stabilization and tenants continue to value the beautiful architectural heritage of the building as well as the 21st century amenities and conveniences it offers.”

Mr. Davis said about 60,000 square feet of space still remains to be leased.

The Davis Companies has spent $100 million rehabbing the 517,376-square-foot Grant Street gem designed by architect Frederick J. Osterling and, like the Frick Building, built by industrialist Henry Clay Frick.

It has developed amenities like a 175-space parking garage and a 5,000-square-foot fitness center while restoring the Flemish-Gothic building’s opulence.

The Davis Companies has filled the first floor retail space, more than 33,000 square feet in all, most of which was empty when it bought the building.

It has added restaurants like the Union Standard, Eddie V’s, Freshii, Jimmy John’s, and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, which will convert two of the old building’s heavily fortified bank vaults into private dining rooms.