Courtesy of Elmhurst Group.

Pittsburgh’s emergence as a hub for advanced research and technology has attracted a new breed of business to our city. And that has created the demand for a new breed of flexible workspaces where companies on the cutting edge of industries like robotics and 3D printing can build and develop their tech.

“There’s just not much of that kind of product” in the local real estate market, says Eric Schindler, director of leasing for the real estate development firm Elmhurst Group.

Several firms have started construction on developments aimed at this emerging sector of our local real estate market. Last week, Elmhurst joined the fray.

Rendering courtesy of Elmhurst Group.

In a presentation before the City Planning Commission last week, Elmhurst unveiled their plans for the Elmhurst Innovation Center, a two-building, mixed-use development within the Pittsburgh Technology Center in South Oakland, right by the Hot Metal Bridge.

“We’re going to put a product out there that fills a niche market that’s being created by these other companies that are looking to do business in Pittsburgh,” says Schindler. “There is a market and a need for this high-tech flex product that we’re proposing to build.”

Schindler adds that while the company, which is more than 40 years old, has built flexible spaces in the past, they’ve all been modest, one-story affairs. The Elmhurst Innovation Center will be on a much larger scale.

In each of the 78,000-square-foot buildings, the first two floors will be interconnected space optimized for research and development, while the third floor will be dedicated to standard office space. Desmone Architects will collaborate on the design.

“The Tech Forge building that the RIDC did in Lawrenceville is sort of a working template,” Schindler explains.

Like Tech Forge, the location straddles several of the city’s centers of innovation. “We’re well-positioned near the talent that’s coming out of the universities, and we’re a stone’s throw away from the central business district.”

The City Planning Commission will hear Elmhurst’s final proposal and vote on approval May 7. From there, Schindler says the company still needs to formally purchase the land from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

While Schindler declined to comment on the total cost of the project, he says that if all goes according to plan, construction will begin in early autumn and the first building will be completed within 18 months.

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