Uptown Pittsburgh has been working to once again become a great urban neighborhood after decades of abandonment, demolition and the proliferation of parking lots. Now, it’s finally seeing some real momentum.

Major projects include a development in the Lower Hill that will be anchored by First National Bank’s headquarters, Duquesne University’s planned medical school and the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Tower on the Bluff. A new $66 million mixed-used development called Fifth & Dinwiddie spearheaded by the Hill District-based Bridging the Gap Development will further change a crucial nexus between the region’s two biggest economic engines, Oakland and Downtown.

Fifth & Dinwiddle will feature 171 apartments — 20% affordable and the rest market-rate — along with commercial office space, coworking space for small local businesses and 12,000 square feet for much-needed local retail.

Rendering of Fifth & Dinwiddie courtesy of Bridging The Gap Development.

“A coffee shop is definitely planned,” says Derrick Tillman, CEO and president Bridging the Gap. “I’d like a bank and a restaurant. Other potential uses are still being explored.”

The project has been in the works for 18 months, and is new enough that it doesn’t have a website yet. But in 2019, Fifth & Dinwiddie was the winning project in a competitive Request For Proposal from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which sold the 30 assembled parcels along Fifth Avenue and Dinwiddie Street to Bridging the Gap for $2.4 million.

The east side of Dinwiddie Street will feature a conversion of the former City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works property (the Mugele Building), which is 20,000 square feet. A 20,000-square-foot addition will add one floor above, and new space to the left of the property. The new construction will house commercial office space and retail.

Derrick Tillman, CEO of Bridging the Gap Development.

“And then, we’re doing a training program focused on clean energy jobs,” says Tillman. “So, teaching folks how to do things like install solar panels and tapping into other opportunities in the clean energy sector.”

The west side of Dinwiddie will contain commercial space and 171 units of housing in two buildings connected by a skybridge. The URA only required that 10% of the units to be affordable housing, but Bridging the Gap doubled that, says Tillman.

There’s also a public plaza planned.

“Essentially, it’s an outdoor living room,” says Tillman. “Outdoor seating for restaurants and retail, room for outdoor meetings, or just getting fresh air if you’re a building occupant.” He also hope to host events such as jazz concerts there.

“We’re excited about the transformational impact that this will have.”

GBBN Architects is designing the project. Bridging the Gap is looking to meet just about every standard for healthy, sustainable buildings they can find with Fifth & Dinwiddie.

“We’re redefining what it means to have a healthy building,” says Tillman. “Both buildings will be Passive House certified, one of the highest standards (for energy efficiency). They’ll have RESET Air Certification (continuous, live air quality monitoring) — groundbreaking technology. The project will be Fitwel Certified, which incorporates healthy lifestyle habits like healthy eating (as well as outdoor space, bicycle parking and a dedicated mothering room for work/life balance).

“This is not just a win only for Uptown, but the city of Pittsburgh, and its citizens,” says Tillman. “This is a national model.”

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.