Courtesy of the City Planning Commission.

After more than a year of legal wrangling, Rugby Realty is ready to make its mark on the Strip District.

At the City Planning Commission’s bi-monthly meeting today, the New Jersey-based development firm unveiled its proposal for the Brickworks project at 21st and Smallman streets. This mixed-use development will include a pair of new, seven-story buildings overlooking the redeveloped Produce Terminal Market.

According to materials submitted to the Planning Commission prior to the meeting, the overall footprint of the Brickworks will be four acres. That includes 390,500 square feet of office space, a 284,600-square-foot parking structure and 34,000 square feet of flexible space — ideal for retail or R&D — across the two buildings.

View from Railroad Street. Courtesy of the City Planning Commission.

The proposal further promises that the project will engage local artists to design the facade of the parking garage. Pittsburgh-based architects Desmone Architects and Al. Neyer collaborated on the design.

While the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment had approved the overall plan in March of last year, they denied the firm’s request to exceed local height restrictions — a decision that Rugby appealed to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Under current zoning laws, the maximum height allowed for property in the Strip is 60 feet. The buildings proposed by Rugby are closer to 108.

The court ruled in Rugby’s favor last November. In his opinion, Judge Joseph James wrote that the office spaces are sufficiently far away from local residences and “will not create a detrimental impact to those properties through traffic caused by additional height and density.”

Rugby already owns several fixtures of the Pittsburgh skyline, including the Gulf Tower on Grant Street and the historic Koppers Building on Seventh Avenue.

If approved at the next commission meeting, construction will begin in late summer and carry on for about 22 months. But the first tenants will ideally start moving in within 18 months. Project leaders expect the first phase of construction will cost $39 million.

Bill O'Toole

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