Frank & Seder Building (Pittsburgh)

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Frank & Seder Building
Former namesFrank & Seder Department Store Building
General information
Architectural styleClassical Revival
Location441 Smithfield Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Coordinates40°26′23″N 79°59′57″W / 40.4396°N 79.9991°W / 40.4396; -79.9991Coordinates: 40°26′23″N 79°59′57″W / 40.4396°N 79.9991°W / 40.4396; -79.9991
CompletedMay 21, 1918
OwnerStark Enterprises
ManagementStark Enterprises
Roof30 m (98 ft)
Technical details
Floor count7
Floor area286,000 sq ft (26,600 m2)
Design and construction
ArchitectCharles Bickel, MacClure & Spahr, and William E. Snaman
DeveloperFrank & Seder Department Store

The Frank & Seder Building is a 30-metre (98 ft), 7-story, former department store building completed in 1918 on Smithfield Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. The building is a contributing structure in the Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District.[2][3]

As of 2019, the historic building is being renovated as a mixed-use facility, Smith & Fifth, with 40 apartments on the upper two levels, 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) of office space, and 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) of retail space spread over the first 2 floors, and underground parking.[4]

Frank & Seder[edit]

Russian Jewish immigrants Isaac Seder and Jacob H. Frank started a wholesale women's wear business in the early 1900s, then switched to retail, opening a downtown Pittsburgh store in 1907. The business grew, expanding into a department store, and adding locations in New York City, Philadelphia and Detroit.[5]

The Pittsburgh Frank & Seder building was expanded in 1913.[6] On January 27, 1917 a fire engulfed the retail shopping district in downtown Pittsburgh bordered by Wood St, Forbes Ave, Smithfield St, and 5th Ave. The Frank & Seder department store at 344 Fifth Avenue was completely destroyed, the Grand Opera House, the Hilton Clothing Company and a dozen other businesses were significantly damaged. The Frank & Seder building damages were valued at $600,000, total losses were valued at $4 million.[7][8][9][10][11] Even though Frank & Seder sustained a complete loss of the building they had been in since 1907, construction of a new building began shortly after and was completed in 1918.[12]

Several labor organizations staged strikes, accompanied by violence, against Frank & Seder and four other major Pittsburgh retailers from 1953 to 1954.[13]

National Department Stores acquired the Frank & Seder group of stores in 1923, including Frank & Seder, Inc. (Pittsburgh); Lewin-Nieman Co. (Pittsburgh); Fink Co. (Philadelphia); Frank A Seder Co. of Philadelphia and Frank & Seder Co. of Detroit.[14][15]

The Pittsburgh Frank & Seder store closed in 1958.[16]

Redevelopment history[edit]

In May 2012 Oxford Development Company, then owner of the Frank & Seder building, unveiled plans to replace the building with a 33-story, $238 million tower named 350 Fifth Ave (updating the current 441 Smithfield address).[17][18]

Oxford revised the project twice, in 2014 reducing the height to 20 stories and in early 2015 changing to 29 stories with eight stories of parking and a $200 million budget. Although Pittsburgh had an office occupancy rate over 94% at the time, Oxford was unable to secure the two large tenants of over 150,000 square feet (14,000 m2) to start construction on the proposed 532,000 square feet (49,400 m2) tower.[19]

Oxford eventually abandoned the project and sold the building to Stark Enterprises in January 2017 for $10.4 million.[20][4] Stark plans a $63 million redevelopment of the building into 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) of office space spread over three floors, with 40 apartments on the upper two levels, and 25,000 square feet (2,300 m2) of retail space spread over the first 2 floors, and underground parking. The project was announced as Icon on Smithfield, but was changed to Smith & Fifth in 2019.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frank & Seder Building at Emporis
  2. ^ a b "Architecture Feature: Frank & Seder Building". Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. January 31, 2017.
  3. ^ Aurand, Martin (1985). "Pittsburgh Central Downtown Historic District" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Retrieved August 16, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Belko, Mark (2019-08-12). "A new name, new timetable for $63 million rehab of old Downtown department store". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  5. ^ "Downtown department store enshrined at Historic Pittsburgh". The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh. March 18, 2011.
  6. ^ "Pittsburgh". Building News. American Architect and Architecture. Vol. 103 no. 1941. J. R. Osgood & Co. March 5, 1913. p. 14.
  7. ^ "Fire Loss Millions: Firemen wage great fight with huge blaze". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 1917-01-27. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  8. ^ "$4 Million Fire in Pittsburgh". Buffalo Evening News. Buffalo, New York. 1917-01-27. Retrieved 2019-09-04.
  9. ^ "Pittsburgh Fire Loss Reaches $3,000,000 – Sweeps Through Section of Retail Business District". The Hartford Courant. Hartford, Connecticut. January 28, 1917. p. 2.
  10. ^ "Pittsburgh Has Disastrous Fire" (PDF). The Oswego Daily Palladium. LIV (19). January 27, 1917. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2012-02-06.
  11. ^ Staff writers (January 27, 1917). "Fire destroys several buildings in Pittsburgh Business district" (PDF). The Utica Daily Observer. p. 1. Archived (PDF) from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2012. ()
  12. ^ "The New Frank & Seder Store, Pittsburgh, PA" (PDF). The New York Times. May 3, 1918.
  13. ^ "LABOR: Peace in Pittsburgh". Time. December 6, 1954.
  14. ^ "Moody's industrial manual: Volume 1". Moody's Investors Service, Mergent FIS, Inc. 1929, p. 1166.
  15. ^ "The Magazine of Wall Street and business analyst: Volume 34". Colonial Communications Corp., 1924, p. 536.
  16. ^ Lisicky, Michael J. (2011). Gimbels Has It!. The History Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1609493073.
  17. ^ Rosenblum, Charles (2012-07-18). "Weighing two redevelopment options for the same parcel of Downtown land". Pittsburgh City Paper. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  18. ^ "Oxford Development Weighs Options for Fifth & Forbes Corridor". Imagine Pittsburgh. Allegheny Conference on Community Development. 2012-05-25. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  19. ^ Fontaine, Tom (2005-06-10). "Pittsburgh developer hires firm to recruit major tenants for proposed office tower". Trib Total Media. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  20. ^ Belko, Mark (2017-01-18). "Oxford abandons plans to build office tower in Downtown Pittsburgh". Pittsburgh Post Gazette. Pittsburgh. Retrieved 2019-08-19.