Pitt agrees to buy Residence Inn on Bigelow Boulevard


Pitt has decided to buy a hotel on Bigelow Boulevard that it has been leasing for the past two years to house students.  

The Board of Trustees’ Property and Facilities committee on Nov. 19 approved proceeding with the purchase of the Residence Inn University Medical Center property at 3896 Bigelow Blvd. for $32 million, pending due diligence.

“The University has identified a need for near-term expansion in student housing capacity, particularly in apartment-style units situated near campus, and the proposed acquisition aligns with the University’s real estate strategy,” David DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business & operations, said at the committee meeting.

The University first leased the property, along with two other Oakland hotels, during for 2020-21 academic year to help reduce the density of campus housing during the height of the pandemic. This year, Pitt continued leasing the Residence Inn property because of the unexpectedly large incoming freshman class.

This year, the building houses undergraduates, who can remain there through the spring 2022 term. After that, Pitt will adapt the property into furnished apartment-style residences available for 12-month leases starting in July and geared toward graduate students.

The property currently has 89 efficiency apartments, 73 one-bedroom and nine two-bedroom units. There also is a 172-space parking garage, lounge, fitness facility, outdoor patio and outdoor basketball court.

“Pitt’s acquisition of the Residence Inn allows us to provide quality housing to our graduate students, and the purchase supports the University’s long-term enrollment growth laid out in the Campus Master Plan,” said Matthew Sterne, vice chancellor for business services. 

Each residence will include a kitchenette, private bathroom and central air conditioning and will be furnished with a bed, dresser, desk, chair and table. Additional property amenities include a fitness facility, outdoor patio, basketball court, on-site laundry and parking garage.

Other planned housing additions include a suite-style undergraduate student residence hall as part of the hillside development and nonstudent walk-to-work housing at the former Quality Inn site at 3401 Boulevard of the Allies in South Oakland.

Other committee action:

Cathedral seventh floor: The floor-by-floor renovation of the Cathedral of Learning will now move to the seventh floor, after the committee approved the $8 million project. It will include work on 15,700 square feet of space for the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, Office of the Provost, and Pitt IT. The project includes upgrades to finishes, furnishings, and reconfiguration of the space, including accessibility improvements; updates to the lobby and restrooms; replacement of the perimeter steam heating system with new hot water heating system; replacement of the mechanical systems to include central air conditioning; reopening of previously closed elevator door openings to provide direct access to the floor; and new energy efficient lighting.

3512 Fifth Ave.: The committee also approved the renovation of the University-owned building at 3512 Fifth Ave., between McKee Place and Meyran Avenue, to relocate Pitt IT staff. The $5.5 million project would reconfigure space to provide hoteling stations, limited offices, and conference spaces in support of a new hybrid work arrangement. Pitt IT was an early adopter of allowing its staff to continue working from home. The project also includes an upgraded façade, new furnishings and upgrades to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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