A view of Mill 19 and the area where the Plaza will be built at Hazelwood Green. Photography by Annie O’Neill, Courtesy of Almono LLC.

Pittsburghers will now be able to access the long-in-development Hazelwood Green project.

Project managers and community leaders gathered today at the site to officially open Blair Street and closed sections of Hazelwood Avenue, along with a nearly two-mile hiking and biking trail through the interior of the park.

The ceremony marks the first time the land, formerly the home of a steel mill, has been open to the public in more than a century.

In addition to providing more access points for the surrounding community, the Hazelwood Trail connects Hazelwood to the Eliza Furnace, Three Rivers Heritage, and Great Allegheny Passage trails.

“The cycle track segment of the Hazelwood Trail along Blair Street is the first of its kind in Pittsburgh — a continuous, protected, multi-modal path built in tandem with a roadway,” said an announcement about the project.

To further connect the area, Port Authority has partnered with Almono LLC to reroute the 57 Hazelwood service route onto Blair Street and Hazelwood Avenue. The route has been operating on a detour since their March 17, 2019 service change.

In 2002, The Heinz Endowments, Benedum Foundation and Richard King Mellon Foundation combined forces to purchase the 178-acre riverfront tract today known as Hazelwood Green, promising to rehabilitate the space “with the vision for a sustainable development that would reflect Pittsburgh’s future.”

As one of the last remaining tracts of significant riverfront property available for development in the Pittsburgh region, the hope is that the site will serve as a vital economic engine for chronically underserved and underdeveloped sections of the city.

Two high-profile tenants, Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute and the Manufacturing Futures Initiative, began construction last year and expect to be open sometime in 2019. Catalyst Connection also has announced plans to move their headquarters to Hazelwood Green later this year.

And last summer, the design team was announced for the property’s public spaces.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh last fall, project manager Rebecca Flora explained that she and her team are optimizing the project for long-term prosperity and stability, rather than short-term profits. As such, she said, observers should expect redevelopment of the property to come at a slow, deliberate pace.

“I know people have seen construction going on forever, but this is not a typical real estate deal,” she said. “We’re setting new standards and pulling the market to reach higher.”

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