Washington Trust Building to receive $279K renovation

Gideon Bradshaw
Observer Reporter

Washington City Council Thursday approved a low-interest loan of several hundred thousand dollars to help the Pittsburgh developer that owns Washington Trust Building pay for renovations in the six-story commercial space at the front of the building.

The unanimous vote allows Washington County Redevelopment Authority to lend $279,000 in city funds to Trek Development Group.

Vanessa Murphy, senior project manager with the developer, said the loan will go toward renovations in the main six-story section of the building at 6 S. Main St., where commercial tenants will move when the developer converts floors two through 10 of the building’s “annex” into 24 single-bedroom apartments.

The developer is planning maintenance and improvements in accessibility as part of its project in the main part of the building.

“The elevators are extremely small,” she told council. “The first task is to take the two small elevators out and put an accessible-size, large elevator in there, which improves building code, safety, also accessibility throughout the stories and allows it to be a functioning building in terms of moving furniture.”

Councilman Ken Westcott said the money used in the loan to Trek was initially given to the city under a state Department of Community and Economic Development program. The city loaned the funds to Arthur Development for the renovation of the former Duane Hotel, and the money was since repaid, Westcott said.

Westcott said the money the city plans to lend to Trek is a “revolving” loan that can go toward another project as the developer pays it back.

Westcott said he thought the interest rate on the loan would be three percent, but referred questions about the terms of the loan to the redevelopment authority.

Authority assistant community director Rob Phillips said the specific terms of the loan – like its time frame and interest rate – would likely be determined by the city “within the next couple weeks.”

The loan is “cheaper than a bank, otherwise they’d go to a bank,” Phillips said.

Murphy said separate entities of the developer will own the two sections of the building.

She said she wasn’t sure of the timeline for the project in the main part of the building or how much it will cost.

She said work on the annex is expected to start by January and last a year.

That project will cost an estimated $11.3 million, with more than $8 million coming from private equity from the sale of tax credits.

Trek bought the building, the former headquarters of Washington Trust Co., in 2013 for $739.844.

The main portion of the building was built in the early 1902; the annex was added in the 1922.