Image courtesy of Spear Street Capital.

For decades, it was one of those odd, partly-hidden places that even some locals didn’t know about: You could get a deal on scratch and dent appliances at the Sears Outlet, off the beaten path (and away from the main drag of Butler Street) in Lawrenceville.

Now, the robots are coming for Sears, too. At least, that’s the plan.

Spear Street Capital, based in San Francisco and New York City, bought the property last summer. They’re planning to turn the massive, 300,000-square-foot structure into high-bay research and development space, the kind that robotics companies love.

Uber, Argo AI, Honeywell, Bombardier, RE2 Robotics, IAM Robotics, and many more make their home in the corridor between Lawrenceville and the Strip District, an area becoming known as Robotics Row.

The plan for Spear Street Capital utilizes a design by Perkins Eastman, reconfigured around a central courtyard, as reported by the Pittsburgh Business Times.

They are requesting a variance for 520 parking spaces, while the riverfront zoning ordinance allows for only 75, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. If they can’t get the variance, that could jeopardize the project. Spear Street will go before the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment on Feb. 6 to seek the parking variance. The building and parking lot overlook the Allegheny River.

Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2020. The project could support up to 1,000 employees, if fully occupied, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times.

Sears Holdings filed for bankruptcy in October of 2018, after more than a century in business.

Michael Machosky

Michael Machosky is a writer and journalist with 18 years of experience writing about everything from development news, food and film to art, travel, books and music. He lives in Greenfield with his wife, Shaunna, and 10-year old son.