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Developer sees more residences Downtown

After converting two vacant rundown buildings -- one Downtown and one in the Strip District -- into thriving condominium developments, the Philadelphia developer is ready to take on another project in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Benoff said Wednesday that he was considering another condominium development in either the Cultural District or some other part of Downtown, the Strip or Lawrenceville.

"I love the city. I love the vibe that is going on. I see it as an underserved market, and I'm really enjoying what's going on here," he said.

Little wonder.

In less than two years, Mr. Benoff has sold 48 of 58 units in the Otto Milk Co. building in the Strip, a mid-19th-century structure that originally housed the Phoenix Brewery.

Prices for the units ranged from $185,000 to $1.6 million for a four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot, two-story penthouse with a rooftop deck. A sales agreement is being negotiated on the latter.

The average sales price strip so far has been in the high-$300,000 range to mid-$400,000 area, Realtor Kathy Wallace said.

About 40 buyers have moved into the building, which stands six or seven stories depending on how one counts the tower. In fact, some people have already come and gone, selling their units at handsome profits.

Ms. Wallace said seven residents in all have sold their condos, with profits running anywhere from $10,000 to $67,000. One unit bought for $302,000 sold for $357,000.

About a mile west, Mr. Benoff has sold all but one of 18 units at 941 Penn Avenue in the Cultural District, a conversion project that began in 2007. Prices ranged from $450,000 to $1.6 million.

While sales at some of the higher end condominium projects Downtown have gone slowly, that has not been the case at either Otto Milk or 941 Penn.

Mr. Benoff invoked an old Realtor's adage in explaining why: location, location, location.

"We have a great location at both places," he said. "The product is what we heard the buyer wanted. The price strip point was where they wanted it to be. So I think we meet the need."

At Otto Milk, buyers also have been able to "turn their 900-square-foot condo into a custom home," Mr. Benoff said. They have been able to move walls or make other changes to shape the space to their own needs.

"I think it's unlike other people who may say to [buyers], 'This is the box. You may change the color on the walls.' But we've given people the ability to change the wall," he said.

Mr. Benoff said his goal was to sell about seven more condominiums at Otto Milk before getting started on his next project. He is offering local Realtors incentives ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 above commissions to find buyers for the remaining condos.

"The key reason why is that I want to start another project, and I have banks lined up that are ready to throw money at me; but I need to sell a couple of units to get to that point," he told Realtors during an event at the building Wednesday.

Author: Huazhilian Commercial Use Equipment Plastic Factory.
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