Sunday, North Shore, the future. The Steelers are playoff-bound, and so are you. You leave your apartment, cross the street, and are at your seat in Heinz Field in only a few minutes.
The Carnegie Science Center and Walnut Capital are reimagining what the surface parking lot near the two institutions could be and an apartment and retail project is one idea on the table. Discussions are preliminary; there is no timeline and even a specific count of units is premature.
But this is a big plot of land (about 450 parking spaces), and everyone seems to agree that it should be put to better use.
“The city doesn’t want to permit surface parking to go on forever around the stadiums,” says Todd Reidbord, president of Shadyside developer Walnut Capital. “They want development to occur there. So, as you see in every other city, arena and stadium districts are always becoming more and more popular as destinations and places to live.”
Given the strong demand for housing, that’s the first choice for the location at the moment. With its proximity to big crowds, it could also be a mixed-use project, with retail and a parking garage.
“We’ve had just very, very preliminary discussions with the Science Center,” says Reidbord. “But I think what they want to do is create a great opportunity for people to just have more to do than just go to the Science Center. Maybe there’s shops, restaurants or parks — places to go.”
With the success of Stage AE, offices and riverfront trails, this area is closer to becoming an actual neighborhood –rather than acres of endless asphalt — than it’s ever been since before the late Three Rivers Stadium was built.
The proposed development at the Science Center parking lot could begin to fill in some of the needs of this emerging neighborhood.
“Maybe there’s small coffee shops or small food stores — things that would cater to people that live there as well as people that might be coming there for a destination,” notes Reidbord.
Another possibility Reidbord mentions is more space for the Science Center itself.
The North Shore around the stadium has two other recently-announced residential/mixed-use projects that are a bit closer to fruition.
These include Ultra at PNC Park, an 11-story, $77 million apartment building from Merrill Stabile and Bridgeville developer RDC, as well as a 108-unit building on Mazeroski Way from Columbus-based developer Continental Real Estate, which will also feature a Pirates-themed outdoor plaza.