A closer look at the proposed renovation. Image courtesy of McCaffery Interests.

One of Pittsburgh’s most high-profile development projects is finally ready to break ground.

At the February meeting of its board of directors, the Urban Development Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) voted to allow the Chicago-based development firm McCaffery Interests to begin construction on their long-in-the-works Produce Terminal redevelopment project.

“After five years, we’re excited to get started,” says Pamela Austin, a senior project manager with McCaffery.

Smallman rendering
An architect’s rendering of the redesigned Smallman Street between 16th and 21st streets, with an extended dock along the Produce Terminal, terrace, bike lane and vehicle lanes. Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning.

Once completed, the $62 million project will bring 163,500 square feet of mixed-use office, restaurant and retail space to the Strip District. The architecture firm Antunovich Associates is collaborating on the design along with the contractor P.J. Dick.

While no tenants have been announced, proposed amenities include a market area featuring a rotating roster of local chefs and cuisine, bars and brewpubs and a fitness center, as well as pedestrian passageways at 17th, 18th and 20th streets. McCaffery will extend the dock area to allow for outside dining and easy pedestrian access, and there will be 276 parking spaces available behind the building.

As per the company’s agreement with the URA, at least 40,000 square feet of the space will be allocated for locally-owned businesses.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Austin says the project will break ground next month, with an eye toward finishing by the summer of 2020.

While the Strip District has many ambitious mixed-use development projects currently in the pipeline, the Produce Terminal project has captured more public interest than most given the historic and iconic nature of the building, which once served as a hub for mid-century Pittsburgh’s bustling shipping industry.

While McCaffery won initial approval for the project in March of last year, further negotiations with the URA and local stakeholders carried on for much of 2018. McCaffery paid $2.5 million for a 99-year lease on the space.

The Produce Terminal construction will run alongside the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure’s initiative to resurface Smallman street, which is scheduled to begin in September of this year.

The Produce Terminal building has been vacant for many years save for a corner that has been occupied by the arts organization Contemporary Craft since 1986.

The approval comes just after Contemporary Craft officially announced their new location. The arts organization received a donation of $1.3 million from McCaffery toward relocation expenses for their $5.5 million purchase and renovation of a building in Upper Lawrenceville.

Bill O'Toole

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