Courtesy of Millcraft.

As of Dec. 13, Pittsburgh is one step closer to having the nation’s first multi-season, urban lagoon and much more.

At the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s public hearing on Thursday, the Pittsburgh-based property developer Millcraft Investments unveiled further details of the ambitious Esplanade project, which looks to bring a 15-acre mixed-use living and recreation space to the Chateau neighborhood on the North Side.

“We want to make sure we are bringing amenities that can be utilized year-round, while also activating our city’s riverfront and in an area that has not seen significant development,” said Lucas Piatt, president, and chief operating officer of Millcraft Investments.

With URA approval for the next phases of the project, Millcraft is planning on beginning construction sometime in 2019 with an eye towards a 2023 opening. The project is expected to cost $700 million overall.

Esplanade has the potential to completely remake the mostly-industrial Chateau neighborhood, which as of the 2010 census had a permanent population of only 11.

Here are some highlights of the planned complex:

Pittsburgh’s answer to the London Eye 
Millcraft has promised a climate-controlled ‘Pittsburgh Wheel’ that will operate year-round and provide visitors with panoramic views of the city’s iconic skyline and rivers. “We’ve wanted to do a Ferris wheel in Pittsburgh for some time,” says Piatt. “Looking at this property and its location along the river, it made sense.”

The enormous, multi-season “urban lagoon” we’ve all been hearing about
If all goes according to plan, this two-acre, man-made body of water will be the first urban lagoon in the world capable of turning from a “paradise-like turquoise body of water” with swimming, kayaking and white sand beaches into a frozen skating rink during the winter months. The lagoon was designed in partnership with the specialty firm Crystal Lagoons, which has created similar structures all over the world.

Rendering of the manmade lagoon in winter. Image courtesy of Millcraft Investments.

Ample space for work and play
With about 200 residential condominiums and 330 apartment units included in the current design, plus retail space at street level and a full-service hotel, Millcraft is looking to bring life to Esplanade 24 hours a day. In addition, the development will include over 300,000 square feet of office space. Announcements of additional design collaborators will come in 2019.

Riverfront development for the community
At the URA meeting, Millcraft pledged to make significant updates to the section of the Heritage bike trail running parallel to the development. In addition, the company also unveiled new renderings showing the marina area that the company plans to build out into the Ohio River.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, a representative for Millcraft said that project leaders have already met with groups including Manchester Bidwell and Riverlife to understand the best and most civic-minded way to use their space. “We plan to be strong community partners throughout the entire process,” says Piatt. “And we look forward to continuing to engage nearby communities in the project.”

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.