U.S. Steel, which has operated in Pittsburgh for more than 100 years, plans to stay at least 18 more.
The giant steelmaker—which sold its 64-story U.S. Steel Tower headquarters in April 2011 and a year later announced it would move out of that building—has inked a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey franchise to build a five-story, 268,000-sf office building on the old Civic Arena site downtown, which the Penguins own.
A subsidiary of the Penguins and the team’s developer, St. Louis-based Clayco, will jointly own the new building, for which construction is scheduled to begin next summer and be completed by October 2017, around the time that U.S. Steel’s five-year lease on 450,000 sf in the U.S. Steel Tower expires. The projected cost of the new building was not disclosed.
U.S. Steel plans to move 800 employees from that tower and offices at Penn Liberty Plaza into 250,000 sf of the new building, which it will lease for at least 18 years, with an option to extend its lease beyond that. The rest of the space will be used for retail stores. The 2.25-acre site will include a museum highlighting Pittsburgh’s and U.S. Steel’s role in the worldwide steel industry.
The company’s decision to remain in Pittsburgh put an end to more than two years of speculation about where it might be headed. Indiana and Illinois reportedly were wooing U.S. Steel to relocate. U.S. Steel had also looked at several other buildings in different areas in and around Pittsburgh.
Site plan for U.S. Steel's new HQ, which will be located across from the Consol Energy Center, home of the Penguins NHL hockey team.
Several local news reports stated that it was Penguins’ CEO David Morehouse who convinced U.S. Steel’s CEO Mario Longhi to keep the company in Pittsburgh. The two chief executives met during a September 2013 barbecue at the home of the Penguins’ legendary player and co-owner Mario Lemieux. At that meeting, Morehouse impressed on Longhi that U.S. Steel was the “foundation upon which this city was built.”
Indeed, Pittsburgh’s Mayor Bill Perduto was on record saying “I didn’t want to be the Pittsburgh mayor to lose U.S. Steel.” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald lobbied federal environmental, transportation, and trade officials on U.S. Steel’s behalf. And Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett last month announced nearly $31 million in state grants to rehab three U.S. Steel plants in the state.
By agreeing to move into new digs, U.S. Steel would be the first corporate anchor tenant for a 28-acre Uptown site next to Consol Energy Center, where $440 million in development is planned, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and other news reports. That development would include retail, housing, and office space, and would be partially funded by more than $30 million in state grants and local tax-increment incentives, which would direct some of the development’s revenue to job training and other programs.
U.S. Steel has agreed to take only half of its potential abatements, with the rest of the incentives going to fund other parts of the Hill District, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.