Walnut Capital to construct building in Oakland


Knox Coulter | Staff Photographer

Real estate developer Walnut Capital has made plans to construct a 12-story office building at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Halket Street.

By Alexander Hanna, For The Pitt News

Walnut Capital, a Pittsburgh real estate developer, is currently constructing office spaces to advance Oakland and Pittsburgh as a medical and tech capital.  

Walnut Capital purchased a vacant building at 3342 Fifth Avenue on Dec. 19, 2018, to cater to university, medical and corporate buyers, and has plans to construct a 12-story office building. Walnut Capital is currently seeking approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment before official construction begins.

Todd Reidbord, the president of Walnut Capital, said the building aims to bring together members of what he called the “knowledge-based economies” — namely, the local universities and UPMC.

“Whether it’s in the tech field, in the bioscience field, the robotics field, the medical field … obviously Oakland is the epicenter of that type of that development,” Reidbord said. “We think the closer you are to those universities and medical centers, the better you are in terms of attracting great companies that want to be partners with Pitt, Carnegie Mellon, the other universities. UPMC as well.”

Walnut Capital is constructing its office complex at the same time as Pitt is having discussions over the University’s Master Plan for the Pittsburgh campus, a 50-year plan that will add new buildings to Pitt’s campus and redevelop many already existing buildings.

The Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, an organization dedicated to community development through resident advocation, hosted an event Jan. 23 at the Oakland Career Center for Oakland residents to voice their opinions and ask questions to Reidbord about his office building proposals.

According to a transcript of the meeting, Walnut Capital is only permitted by the Zoning Board of Adjustment to build to eight stories, but is currently asking the Board to allow an extra four stories so the building may facilitate more open spaces, contributing to a more attractive work space.

“Between Fifth and Forbes is where it is appropriate to have taller buildings. Then, opportunity for other small things elsewhere. We believe we can design a better building, more attractive, more open space in return for additional height,” Reidbord said, according to the transcript.

Jarrett Crowell, the planning and outreach coordinator for the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation, said he hoped that these new office spaces serve to be a model for new developments to Oakland.

“Especially with Pitt coming out with their institutional master plan, there’s a lot of new projects being proposed in that area. I’m hoping that this proposal will be exemplary of a really productive planning process … I’m hoping that this can set a precedent for the rest of the projects along Fifth and Forbes,” Crowell said.