Southpointe CEO association celebrates anniversary, honors Piatt

By Julia Mericle
Pittsburgh Business Times

Jack B. Piatt, chairman of the Board of Millcraft Investments, sat down with his son, Lucas B. Piatt, president and COO of Millcraft Investments, for a conversation on how the company grew from idea to empire at the celebration of Southpointe’s 25th anniversary.

The Southpointe CEO Association awarded Jack with the inaugural Spirit of Southpointe Award for his vision and dedication to development's future at the event Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe.

Millcraft developed the 589 acres of Southpointe, a hub of office space, residential space, a golf course and hotel, in Washington County, inspiring a new model for public and private partnerships in the region.

While it could be hard to imagine at this point in the development, Jack said Millcraft and Southpointe started out small. Millcraft began in a small office with $1,500. The company built steel mills around the world, and eventually transitioned into the real estate industry. It's now worth $700 million. Jack said the company could not have gotten to where it is today without a spirit of collaboration at its core.

“It’s crazy until it’s not. It’s crazy until it’s real. It’s crazy until it’s done,” said Lucas.

In the beginning, developing Southpointe was just an idea. Jack said he wanted to create something in Washington County that could envelop the idea of “Work. Live. Play.” all in one location.

Lucas said while that slogan is now greatly overused by communities and centers around the country, Southpointe was one of the first to take that phrase and put it into action.

It wasn’t an easy journey, said Jack.

“Every project you do you will have opposition,” said Jack. “It makes too much noise. Your buildings are too high. There are thousands of questions you have to answer and you have to romance the folks. I tell our people whenever you have construction you are going to have noise and disruption and inconvenience. That is part of the game.”

But when that is over, something beautiful is made, he said.

Jack and his company also worked to develop land in downtown Pittsburgh, including Market Square. Now, Millcraft has about half a billion dollars worth of investments in property in the Pittsburgh region, he said.

That includes its in-the-works project Esplanade, a 15-acre mixed use development on the North Side to feature a large “Crystal Lagoon” water feature.

While the company is working on projects in Pittsburgh, Jack said he’s not forgotten about the importance of Washington County and Southpointe.

“We think a great Pittsburgh is a great Washington County and a great Washington County is a great Pittsburgh,” said Jack.

After asking his father about wisdom from his years in real estate, Lucas concluded the interview by asking his father how he got to be such a “young 90” years old.

“Good wine, hard work and beautiful women,” Jack replied.