Waterfront Place Townhomes will be located behind the Produce Terminal on a new street built for Buncher Company's Riverfront Landing development. Rothschild Doyno Collaborative rendering.

Pittsburgh-based developer Laurel Communities purchased an additional tract of land in the Strip District this week to expand their already on-the-market Strip District Brownstones project.

Representatives from Laurel Communities say the site will be home to 21 additional, new townhouses to complement the 46 that are already in progress. On-site work for the first phase began last fall, and developers plan to have the first batch of townhomes finished within the next two years.

While there have been many high-profile office and retail projects announced in and around the Strip over the last several years, the townhouse project stands apart in that it focuses on bringing residential life to the area.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh on Tuesday, Laurel Communities Sales and Marketing Manager Lorrie Crummie said the project is moving much faster than the developer initially expected due to high demand.

The company has already sold 28 units. The first 12-unit block sold out by the end of November.

“We’re really hitting all demographics,” says Crummie, “a few young families, a few young professionals. Some empty nesters who still work in the city.”

AJ Drexler, CEO and Chief Strategist of Campos, is an empty nester who just bought a townhouse. She and her husband sold their Mt. Lebanon house not long ago after raising five kids and have been renting an apartment in the Cultural District to assess Downtown living.

Downtown, it turns out, “is exactly where we wanted to be.” They decided to buy a Strip District Brownstone for many reasons, chief among them the two-car garage, the number of bedrooms, the proximity to the river and the stand-alone factor. “If the Produce Terminal was not moving at the pace it seems like it’s moving, I would have been more hesitant,” she says. They expect to move in around August. 

According to Crummie, some residents are undeterred by the thought of waiting a few years for their new homes. “We’re basically selling into the summer of 2020,” she said.

The townhomes, which will range in size from two to four bedrooms each, will feature three and a half floors and are projected to cost between $600,000 and $1 million. These properties will contribute much to a local tax base that has shrunk since the neighborhood’s industrial heyday.

Working in consultation with local stakeholders, the City Planning Commission and Riverlife, the developers and architects designed structures and facades that incorporate large, factory-style windows and brick detailing inspired by the Produce Terminal and other historic buildings in the area.

“We made this project protecting the character and architecture of the Strip,” says Geoff Campbell, a principal and director of operations and services at Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, the architecture firm that designed the homes.

The residential development is located on Waterfront Place, just behind the Produce Terminal on Smallman Street, which the Chicago-based McCaffery Interests aims to renovate to include a combination of restaurants and office space (pictured below).

A rendering of the Produce Terminal’s possible future. Image courtesy of McCaffery Interests.
A rendering of the Produce Terminal’s possible future. Image courtesy of McCaffery Interests.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh near the end of 2018, Mike Lee, president of the Strip District Neighbors community group, said that the townhouses and other developments like it represent a “tipping point” that will only beget more development of the community.

“You’re seeing more and more people start to execute their plans,” Lee says.

Stay tuned for more coverage as these projects progress.

Bill O'Toole

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