Reliant Energy Office Complex in Pennsylvania Sold to Developer

Johnstown's former Reliant Energy complex, including prime commercial space within a six-building, 15-acre site, is now in the hands of a real estate developer.

The Broad Street site has been sold to an affiliate of Commerce Realty Group Inc. of Deerfield Beach, Fla., Houston-based Reliant said Monday.

The move all but closes the book on Johnstown's attempt to buy the complex, which some had envisioned as a new home for city government as well as a ready-made spot for economic development.

"You're not going to get everything you want," Johnstown Mayor Don Zucco said in a telephone interview.

Reliant administrators said they expect to close their deal with Danforth Inc. in January. No purchase price was disclosed, but Reliant had marketed the property at $4.5 million.

Reliant last year said that it was closing the Cambria City office and moving its regional headquarters to the Pittsburgh area. Johnstown lost about 135 jobs due to that decision.

More than half of the complex remains under lease to various businesses, and Danforth Inc. likely will look to fill up even more office space, company Vice President Bill Ring said Monday.

"We believe that Johnstown has a good future ahead of it," Ring, who also serves as Commerce Realty vice president, said in a telephone interview from his Florida office.

"To find such a well-located, large piece of property that has so much frontage along a main road is unique," Ring said, adding that the property has been well-maintained.

"We have some good tenant prospects, which I can't name right now," he said.

This past summer, the city offered $250,000 for Reliant's property. But Reliant administrators last month said they had rejected Johnstown's offer in favor of a higher bid.

Now, Zucco is hoping a private buyer means the property will stay in taxation and attract new tenants.

"They'll make this thing work, which is good for us," he said.

That still leaves the city in an office-space quandary, though.

Officials have said both City Hall and the Public Safety Building are outdated and cramped.

With the Reliant bid apparently dead, it's not clear whether the financially distressed city can afford to build new offices from scratch.

But City Council also is considering how to spend or save more than $9 million in proceeds from selling Johnstown's sewage-treatment plant.

The mayor has suggested that council consider setting aside some of that money to help pay for a complex where city departments could be combined.

"We ought to explore the possibility of a municipal building," Zucco said Monday.