Three Strip District development projects will split $2.25 million in state grant money, including an expansion of the 3 Crossings neighborhood with a riverfront park along the Allegheny riverfront.

The funding from the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) is part of more than $9.2 million awarded to local organizations for economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects, says state Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny).

“This is an investment in the people who make our cities and neighborhoods the successes they are, and represents the future we are striving for,” Fontana says.

3 Crossings will receive $750,000 to transform the development, already well underway, of a former cardboard factory into office space, retail space, 300 residential units, and more than 1,300 parking spaces on a 10-acre site.

As part of its development, 3 Crossings is contributing to the creation of a 20-block riverfront park between 11th Street and the 31st Street Bridge with playgrounds, fishing piers, and marinas. 3 Crossings will work on the riverfront development of their property that falls within this larger footprint.

“I am especially excited by the new developments at 3 Crossings that will expand riverfront access for residents and visitors by creating sidewalks, a new road, and public plazas,” says state Rep. Emily Kinkead (D-Allegheny), whose district includes the area. “The Allegheny River is our local treasure.”

Oxford Development Company, which is building 3 Crossings, aims to preserve the natural environment while creating inclusive places, says Steve Guy, Oxford president and CEO. 3 Crossings is being built in phases in a part of the Strip that housed railyards and factories.

“These dollars will support the creation of spaces where the public can gather and enjoy the natural beauty of the riverfront all while being connected to the amazing urban experience of the Strip District,” says Guy.

The second Strip District awardee, Acram Group, will receive $1 million to demolish the former Wholey’s cold storage building at 1501 Penn Ave. and construct a 23-story office tower with retail space, sidewalk improvements, trees and bike racks.

“We appreciate the state’s investment into this important project, which will add job growth and economic vitality to the Strip District and the city of Pittsburgh,” says Chris Deppoliti of Acram Group, formerly JMC Holdings, the grant recipient for the project at 1501 Penn Ave.

The third recipient, McKnight Bayardstown LLC, will use $500,000 to renovate an “underutilized historic building in the Strip into office and retail space, including upgrades to the exterior and façade,” according to an RACP list of grant awardees. The Bayardstown revitalization project includes improvements to sidewalks and lighting.

The area of Strip closest to Downtown was developed in 1814 as the Northern Liberties of Pittsburgh, or as Bayardstown, after one of the original developers, according to the city Planning Department’s Transportation and Land Use Framework Plan.

McKnight Realty Company recently bought the 1700 Smallman St. warehouse that is a Mahla Office Furniture storage and receiving facility, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times, though neither McKnight nor Mahla would comment to the newspaper on the sale.

The building is next to Chicago-based McCaffrey’s 1600 Smallman development that will become home to the autonomous vehicle company Aurora Innovation Inc. The building is across the street from McCaffrey’s major restoration of the former Produce Terminal.

In addition to the Strip District projects, Fontana says the RACP awarded grants to:

  • First National Bank of Pennsylvania – $4 million for its FNB Financial Center at the former Civic Arena site;
  • Rosedale Technical College in Kennedy Township – $1 million for an expansion;
  • Jasmine Nyree Homes, Inc. in Sheraden – $1 million to build a community center; and
  • Faros Property Management LLC – $1 million for its Allegheny Circle neighborhood restoration and parking garage improvements on the North Side.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is a statewide grant program administered by the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget. Projects must have a regional or multijurisdictional impact and generate substantial increases or maintain current levels of employment, tax revenues, or other measures of economic activity, according to its website.

Sandra Tolliver

Sandra Tolliver is a freelance writer, editor and public relations professional in Upper St. Clair.