The Piatt family – and rightly so – took center stage at Southpointe on Wednesday night.
Lucas B. Piatt, President and COO of Millcraft Investments, was the guest speaker at Southpointe CEO Assoc’s annual Spirit of Southpointe award and reception. He was also a laureate, who received the 2021 Jack B. Piatt Award from the association.
Jack, Lucas’s father, was the visionary and founder of the Cecil Township Mixed Use Park. One night in the late 1980s, while driving along Interstate 79 with harness racing legend Delvin Miller, he had the idea of ââbuilding something awesome on a huge expanse of trees. . His plan began with the development of a golf course and turned into Southpointe.
Jack Piatt started Millcraft in 1957 and turned it into a real estate development and management giant, which his son runs from his national headquarters in the park. The father is now gone, passed away in September 2020 at the age of 92.
The 806-acre park, literally and figuratively, has been at the center of this family for more than three decades. Lucas, 45, was at the center of a one-on-one discussion with Evan Rosenberg, editor of the Pittsburgh Business Times, at the Hilton Garden Inn.
In front of an audience of around 150 people, Piatt answered questions about Southpointe and his business interests in downtown Pittsburgh and the North Side.
The pandemic, he said, hit Southpointe hard. Piatt cited a recent report from Jones Lang LaSalle Inc., a real estate services company, saying that office space is about 37% vacant. Expressing on several occasions that he is “an optimist”, Piatt nevertheless estimated that “it will take at least three years” to return.
âI still think being in the office is essential for culture,â he said. “People will come back, but a lot of people don’t want to commit to long-term leases.”
He said the delta variant could disrupt the companies’ plans for Southpointe and Pittsburgh.
Showing his optimistic side once again, Piatt said workers were back in downtown Pittsburgh and several restaurants were doing well. He and his company have a formidable presence in the former Steel City, with Piatt Place, Market Square Place, LumiÃ¨re and Tower Two-Sixty.
They also have a major stake on the north side of town, along the Ohio River. Millcraft recently made its first real estate purchases to develop Esplanade, a $ 450 million project that the company originally promoted in 2018. Plans call for the redevelopment of 15 acres north of the Rivers Casino, where residences, a hotel are located. , a marina, a ferris wheel and other attractions. to be built.
Piatt said it was âa truly river-oriented project. This brings the river into the project.
Construction of a two-acre Blue Lagoon white sand beach has been abandoned.
” We have adored. It was so daring, âsaid Piatt. “But he was too big and would have been a huge failure in the winter.”
He hopes to start construction of the Esplanade within a year and a half.
Although Pittsburgh will get a new leader, Piatt said he expects Pittsburgh mayor-elect Ed Gainey to continue his downtown upgrading plans.
Several times during the hour-long session, Piatt generously praised his role model – his father.
âHe had a good business sense. Whatever he said, it would become true. He said, ‘Do it right, do it now,’ âPiatt said of his father.
âSouthpointe was the absolute reflection of his vision. The public-private partnership there has been great.
This year’s Spirit of Southpointe Award included a donation of $ 10,000 to the Jack B. Piatt Scholarship Fund. The fund supports Washington County students who plan to continue their education in college or trades.
The Washington County Chamber of Commerce hosted the event.
âWe have been honored to present this award to many business leaders who have shared Jack Piatt’s vision to think big and move our region forward,â said Chamber Speaker Jeff Kotula. âWe also honor his memory by providing opportunities for those who will be the next leaders in our region. “