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PITTSBURGH-Nick Hoban, founder of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, has sold the Clark Building at 717 Liberty Ave. for $22.5 million, or just shy of $77.32 per sf. The 23-story, 291,000-sf building was completed in 1927 and named after theater magnate James Bly Clark, a founder of Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Hoban located the culinary institute in the building in 1982 and purchased the property in 1998 for $9.1 million. Since then he invested $7.5 million in renovations, including an updated HVAC and other improvements. He sold the institute, which continues to occupy about 100,000 sf on mid-level floors, for $44 million in 2001.

Michael Liguori of locally based Langholz Wilson Ellis represented Hoban in the sales transaction and also procured the buyer, identified as Singularity Clark LP, which Liguori tells GlobeSt.com is a New York City-based partnership headed by investor Ira Gorman. “The improvements and location in the Cultural District attracted broad national attention,” he says. “Investors in larger metropolitan markets are recognizing opportunities in second-tier metropolitan markets, where they can achieve higher returns of the types of properties they would typically buy in their own markets.”

The retail component is fully occupied, primarily by jewelry retailers. The office space is about 70% leased, and the upper floors that overlook the Allegheny River and PNC Park have been “restored to vanilla shell,” Liguori says. The asking rental rate for office space is approximately $17.50 per sf.

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