Federation sells building but remains in place
The Jewish Federation sold the property to real estate management company Walnut Capital but will continue to lease the space as they look for a new location.
Representatives from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s board of directors announced that the organization will sell its Oakland-based headquarters to Walnut Capital.
“We went through an extremely thorough and competitive bidding process to identify the best strategic partner,” said Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing. “We were impressed with Walnut Capital’s proven innovation in enhancing communities through thoughtful, impactful development. With the sale of the building, our organization will be able to grow its reach by focusing less on time-consuming and costly operational issues and more on meaningful initiatives that support our mission.”
The properties, located at 234 McKee Place and 242 McKee Place, have been home to the Federation since the 1955 merger of the United Jewish Fund and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies.
Given the organization’s growth — its one-time employment of fewer than 15 individuals has expanded to a staff of more than 60 full-time professionals — a more suitable space with a “more modern work environment” was needed, explained Hertzman.
Respondents of a past survey of Federation staff and community members revealed that they preferred a site with free parking for visitors and employees, a flexible multipurpose space, and both a dairy and meat kosher kitchen. A new home should be easily accessible by public transportation and should be “green and maximize natural light,” the survey concluded.
“There is recognition today that we have meetings in very small groups and our conference rooms are limited,” Hertzman said earlier. “If you’re meeting with three people it’s strange to have such a large space. We currently don’t have space that lends itself to creativity or creative thinking.”
A press release said the search for a new location that “will be more inclusive for all community members and more accessible to people with disabilities” continues.
While the Federation has given itself three years to locate a new home, the interim will be spent in place, as the organization has decided to lease back the space from Walnut Capital. Additionally, per the agreement, the Federation may preserve particular elements of the property, such as its stained glass windows. Details regarding the sale and purchase price were not disclosed by Hertzman.
In a statement, Jeffrey Finkelstein, the Federation’s president and CEO, praised the opportunities presented by the sale.
“This move will be great for the Jewish Federation staff and volunteer leadership to create an exciting environment in which we can work in an even more collaborative way,” he said. PJC
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