Tube City Almanac

June 25, 2008

New Owners Seek Tenants For People's Building

Category: Local Businesses, News || By

A New York City couple making their first venture into commercial real estate has purchased one of the city's best-known landmarks.

Lin and Lily Lum of Brooklyn have purchased the former People's Union Bank Building, Downtown, from the mortgage company that foreclosed on the property earlier this year.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, though the 102-year-old skyscraper now known as The People's Building was expected to sell for more than $400,000.

The Lums, who both hold engineering degrees from SUNY-Stony Brook, also own two brownstone townhouses in Brooklyn, according to New York City deed records.

But this is the couple's first foray into owning a commercial property, and their first purchase outside of New York.

Naturalized U.S. citizens, the Lums are natives of Guangdong (formerly Canton) province, China. Lily Lum works for New York City's Health & Hospitals Corporation, while Lin Lum is a computer programmer for a major investment bank.

Reached by phone at her New York office this week, Lily Lum told the Almanac she and her husband were looking for an investment opportunity when they saw the People's Building listed on the Internet.

"We didn't know anything about the building," she said. "It was a surprise. It had a wonderful history. We liked the history of it."

For most of its history, the building's upper floors were home to doctors, lawyers and other professionals. The Lums would like to attract the same kind of tenants; Lily Lum said she doesn't want to rent the building to just anyone.

The local property manager hired by the mortgage company has been retained and will stay on-site, Lum said.

It's not the first building Downtown to be sold to an East Coast investor. The building at 224 Fifth Ave. that once housed Byer's Children's Shop and Gala Jewelers was purchased several years ago by a Connecticut man.

Lum said the couple's first tasks will be to repair the damaged sidewalk along Walnut Street, wash the exterior of the first and second floors, repair the hot and cold water systems inside, and improve air circulation in the mezzanine and old banking hall.

"We are also looking to see if the city can help us --- if there's any way we can cooperate" to find tenants, she said. "Some of the people have already come to talk to us."

Potential tenants interested in renting space in the People's Building should contact Lily Lum at (646) 296-5347, or

Your Comments are Welcome!

It’s probably a good thing that the building has a new owner. Noew let’s hope they can find sufficient tenants to justify their investment. Maybe some incubator office space, with some help from the City/State? What’s the going rate for class B office space in the ‘burg area? Surely they can make this attractive in price for tentants in a fundamentally sound, historic building?
ebtnut - June 25, 2008

It is good news that the building has been sold. Now we can hope the new owners present a plan to the City and State to help ressurrect downtown McKeesport. How about having a Veteran’s Empowerment Center in the building to help returning veterans find employment, learn how to start a small business and adjust to civilian life? How about tax breaks for professionals to occupy the offices? How about a “meet and greet” with the new owners to exchange ideas? How about we get off our collective backsides and start invigorating the downtown area by cleaning up the litter, create murals to spruce up the Fifth Avenue corridor (ask Mr. Dennis Barna, a local artist, to help) and think about incentives to attract businesses to our area. We can do it if we try !
Donn Nemchick - June 26, 2008

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