Five creative studios will soon be available in Braddock for those who run their own businesses and want to live in the community where they work; the spaces will be available for lease in December. Part of a larger commercial facility known as 501 Braddock Avenue, the site’s developer and Braddock officials say the new spaces will feed the borough’s momentum.

When UPMC announced in 2009 that it would close Braddock’s hospital, the community faced a dearth of healthcare options as well as an opportunity to reconceive its downtown. In 2011, after public meetings and community outreach, the Allegheny County Economic Development Department selected Trek Development’s proposal for the site: 24 mixed-income townhomes known as The Overlook, and 501 Braddock Avenue, a mixed-use commercial office facility that houses the live-work spaces.

Bill Gatti, Trek’s president and CEO, says the project fulfills part of the firm’s mission to revitalize the urban core.

“I think we’ve created a new center of the Braddock commercial and residential district.”

501 Braddock Avenue’s first floor will be available to traditional retail tenants while the other half will be comprised of the five 1,000- to 1,200-square-foot creative studios. Allegheny Health Network has signed a lease for the second floor and will soon begin operating a full-service urgent care center.

Braddock Mayor John Fetterman says the center addressed the community’s primary concern after the hospital’s closure: healthcare.

“The center will be state of the art; it will accept Medicaid and Medicare. A lot of the issues people were going to the emergency room with can be addressed quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively at the center, instead of spending four hours in the ER for an earache.”

Fetterman says he’s excited that the development will bring both exceptional healthcare to the community and demonstrate that Braddock is a desirable community to live in.

“Part of redevelopment is the ability to bring in businesses. These [creative studio] spaces are ideal for young entrepreneurs to bring more ideas and innovation into Braddock.”

He adds that the market-rate lofts, leasing for $1,000 per month, are one-third the cost of similar spaces in Lawrenceville or East Liberty.

Gatti says tenants for Braddock’s creative studios will be chosen on the strength of their application and how well their idea has been thought through.

“We’re looking for creative people who will provide vibrancy and bring something to the Braddock marketplace.”

Trek recently donated an adjacent piece of property to be developed into park space. The general contractor for the site is Mistick Construction. Rothschild Doyno Collaborative is the project’s architect and urban design firm.

Margaret J Krauss

Margaret J. Krauss is a writer, radio producer, and researcher. If not biking Pittsburgh's streets or swimming its rivers, she is likely geeking out about a really good story.