Sharpsburg, the tiny 0.5-square-mile borough across the river from Pittsburgh’s Morningside neighborhood, may soon be home to its very own “riviera.”
On Oct. 31, local developer The Mosites Company broke ground on Allegheny Shores (formerly known as Riverfront 47), a project that will stretch from Allegheny RiverTrail Park in Aspinwall to the James Sharp Landing on 13th Street in Sharpsburg.
The 50-acre mixed-use development will span 1.5 miles of riverfront and include public park space, bike trails, affordable housing and commercial space.
The project has been in the works for more than five years, says Sharpsburg Mayor Brittany Reno. What is now a scrapyard overgrown with weeds will become a community landmark.
“We are trying to activate the riverfront,” says Steve Mosites, founder of The Mosites Co. “It’s been over 100 years since there’s been a true connection other than 13th Street.”
The next step in the process is rezoning the development site in Sharpsburg to allow for higher density living, says Mosites. The current zoning only allows for 12 residential units per acre. Mosites hopes to include ground-level office or retail space and some kind of structured parking into building taller, multifamily properties.
Mosites and the borough are working in partnership with ACTION Housing to make sure that a portion of the new housing will be affordable. They’ll present their plan to the community in the spring.
“Affordable housing is what I’m most excited to have,” says Reno. “When we look at the access to quality affordable housing, we have to demand solutions on the riverfront. In my opinion, it has to go further than what’s on the site, too. The impact of the development is going to ripple across the community.”
Retail possibilities could include a casual restaurant, a distillery, kayak rentals and more, says Susan Bicket, general counsel with Mosites. Restaurateurs around the city have expressed interest in being a part of the project, says Bicket, including Jen Urich of Farmer x Baker.
“Or maybe an Italian restaurant,” says Bicket. “Of course, you have to have the Italian culture in Sharpsburg. That’s why we’ve been calling it the Sharpsburg Riviera.”
Another wish list property Mayor Reno would love to see? A grocery store.
Sharpsburg is a certified food desert. Though it neighbors other boroughs that do have grocery stores, such as Etna, that is only beneficial for people with a personal vehicle, says Reno. About a quarter of Sharpsburg residents fully rely on public transportation.
A green space where people can host gatherings, walk their dogs and spend time near the water is important to residents, says Sharpsburg Councilperson Jonathan Jaso.
“Transforming an industrial site into something that is usable, bringing people and tax money here, obviously there’s a win for Sharpsburg,” says Jaso. “Hopefully we can make it a seamless transition.”
Sharpsburg residents can review the proposed rezoning related to the project online.