Major Upgrades Coming To Fifth Avenue Place In Downtown Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A major upgrade is coming to a prominent building in downtown Pittsburgh.

Highmark Health officials announced a makeover for a building first constructed more than three decades ago at a press conference on Wednesday with Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Pennsylvania Sen. Wayne Fontana and Mayor Bill Peduto.

The $20 million investment is for building upgrades on the first and second floors of Fifth Avenue Place, built to replace the Jenkins Arcade, which was torn down in 1984.

(Source: Highmark Health)

“To be able to be an anchor building in downtown Pittsburgh, to open up our first and second floor and continue to be open to the public, to have people walk through here and to be the center of this region of the city is very exciting for us as we move forward,” said Dan Onorato, executive vice president at Highmark Health.

Fifth Avenue Place is owned by Highmark and is primarily occupied by Highmark employees.

“You think about this space, there’s probably nobody whose mother or grandmother didn’t come down here to buy buttons when it was the Jenkins Arcade,” added Fitzgerald.

Highmark says the public area will be opened up for more light, and that includes the retail shop area.

“The retail space will be cleaned up. Today, there are a lot of protruding walls, and it’s hard to see through the retail space and understand everything that’s really there,” said Highmark Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Karen Hanlon told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.

WATCH: Highmark Health News Conference —

This corner of Fifth Avenue Place was a women’s store for many years, but no more.

The hope is that there will be a restaurant with outdoor dining right on the empty corner plaza at Stanwix and Penn Avenue.

And how about an upgraded food court with more comfortable seats?

“The food court itself will hopefully have some of the vendors that we already have and some new ones as well, but the seating will be far more inviting than it is today,” noted Hanlon.

WATCH: KDKA’s Jon Delano reports on the improvements to Fifth Avenue Place.

Work is expected to get underway by the end of this year and should be completed over the next three years.

Highmark said it should employee more than 100 construction jobs.