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FreeMarkets name, logo to adorn skyscraper

Tuesday, March 14, 2000

By Dan Fitzpatrick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

A Downtown landlord has agreed to change the name of One Oliver Plaza to FreeMarkets Center and to install the fast-growing Internet auction company's red-and-white logo on four sides of the 37-story tower.

FreeMarkets Inc. also will lease six new floors -- or 109,000 square feet, the largest Pittsburgh office deal so far this year -- for a total of 10 floors and 180,000 square feet.

The name of the building, now One Oliver Plaza, is expected to change in April.

FreeMarkets declined comment.

The new sign, which would mark a noticeable change in Downtown's skyline and be visible from home plate of the new PNC Park, has tentative zoning approval from the city. If the cost of installing the four signs exceed $100,000, the issue goes before the planning commission. If the cost are less than $100,000, the decision rests with Jim Brown, the city's zoning administrator.

FreeMarkets' willingness to take additional space in a once-empty building made it easier for One Oliver owner Kojaian Cos., of Southfield, Mich., to agree to new logos on all four sides of its building.

A few months ago, the company wanted logos on only two sides. Since then, the parties have agreed to shrink the signs from their original 12-foot-high height, making the decision easier for Kojaian.

With the new FreeMarkets' lease, occupancy in the building would be more than 50 percent. A year and a half ago, One Oliver was 11 percent occupied.

FreeMarkets was a fortuitous find for Kojaian, which purchased the building for $30 million in 1998. The building, which sits at the intersection of Wood Street and Liberty and Sixth avenues, flirted with bankruptcy in 1996, lost its two largest tenants in 1997 and burst into flames in 1998.

FreeMarkets was the first big company to sign a lease at One Oliver after Kojaian's purchase, moving last March from the Cultural District. It took the 21st and 22nd floors to start. It later took space on the 23d and 24th floors, too.

In December, the company went public in one of the most successful initial offerings in a year filled with them.

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