At a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week for Downtown’s newest living space, First Avenue Lofts, Mayor Bill Peduto noted that the city didn’t really have a specific plan for that part of Downtown.

Boxed in by Grant Street, Fort Pitt Boulevard and the Boulevard of the Allies, First Avenue has attracted a host of new business in recent years. Siam Thai, opened in 2013, sits next to Grateful Doug’s, a new coffee and memorabilia shop.

Moop Shop opened their first retail store on First Avenue in October last year. And next week, Distrikt Hotel opens around the corner on the Boulevard of the Allies, along with it Dennis Marron’s steak and seafood throwback “or, The Whale.”

During his brief remarks the mayor spoke of First Avenue developing its own vibrancy as a residential area with boutique shops. The mayor also spoke of working with Envision Downtown to host movie nights and pop-up markets there and “really start to rethink what the area will become.”

“Having people live here is the first step to having that happen,” says Peduto.

More people will call the Firstside Historic District home beginning August 11 when residents begin to move into First Avenue Lofts at 422 First Avenue. Formerly the Graphics Arts Color Corporation, owner Todd Palcic bought the building in 2013.

View from First Ave. Lofts.

“It’s a quiet street,” says Palcic. “It reminds me a little bit of areas of the East Village years ago, and it could be built up in such a way that it maintains some historic character and is not a back alley street but more of an authentic experience.”

Not long after Palcic’s purchase, it was announced that the city’s Firstside Historic District, first designated in 1988, was being expanded to include neighboring streets and his property.

Interior of First Avenue Lofts. Photo courtesy of First Avenue Lofts.

Palcic, who also owns Lando Lofts at 909 Penn Ave., says that historic tax credits enabled him to reconstruct the building at a more affordable rate and those savings are represented in the cost of the units, which range from $1,150 to $1,795 per month. So far, 23 of the 35 units have been leased. Millcraft will manage the property, which was designed by Indovina Associates Architects.

Amenities at the new lofts include a rooftop deck with views of the city, Smithfield Street Bridge and the South Side. The rooftop will also have a fitness center and kitchen/bar area.

There’s even more exciting news coming soon: later this year a “well-known western PA brewery” will open a taproom with outdoor seating on the ground floor of the lofts.

Brian Conway

Brian Conway is a writer and photographer whose articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and local publications. In his free time, he operates Tripsburgh. Brian lives in the South Side.