Construction is underway throughout Pittsburgh, which will soon look very different in certain areas. To help you track what’s what, we rounded up the biggest developments to watch that are in motion now or scheduled to be this year.
There’s more we didn’t include. For example, the redevelopments of the former Kaufmann’s and Frank & Seder department stores Downtown are moving along slowly. AHN is building multiple new neighborhood hospitals and working on expanding Allegheny General. And the big universities are growing in ways that you might not notice unless you’re on campus — like a new medical school for Duquesne.
Residential construction continues to boom in the Strip and Lawrenceville. There are more transformative projects on the drawing boards, like the $700 million Esplanade — with a man-made lagoon/ice rink and Ferris wheel — on the North Shore, though timetables are still uncertain. We’ll get updates for you on all of them throughout the year, but for now, here are the top 10 developments worth watching in 2020:
This ocean of asphalt, this dead sea of parking since the days of the Civic Arena, may finally be on the way to a higher and better use. After years of difficult negotiations between the neighborhood, the Penguins and city government, it looks like this is actually going to happen. A massive music venue, Punch Bowl Social, a 24-story office tower with First National Bank as the main tenant and about 500 new apartments at various price points are all on the table. Also, I-579 is getting “capped” with a park-like bridge on top of it, creating the kind of pedestrian-friendly connection between the Hill and Downtown that has been absent since the old Civic Arena’s construction. The Lower Hill, at long last, could be on its way to becoming a neighborhood again.
Hazelwood Green, Hazelwood
Empty, undeveloped land this close to a major urban center is rare, a legacy of the massive LTV Steel complex that used to cut Hazelwood off from the Monongahela. After more than a decade of painstaking soil remediation — this land was quite polluted — and planning, Hazelwood Green is coming to life. The most noticeable change has taken place entirely within a remnant of the old steel plant, Mill 19, which is being repurposed as high-tech office and workshop space, and home to the Carnegie Mellon University-led Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute and Manufacturing Futures Initiative.
Hazelwood Green now has a roadway that’s open to the public — and a (temporary) roadway that’s closed to the public that Uber uses as a test track. Eventually, a 1.9-mile pedestrian and bike trail, a riverfront park, a public plaza and millions of square feet of housing and office space will fill this 178-acre site. It will all be designed to environmental LEED for Neighborhood Development standards. Solar power is being added to the top of the Mill 19 building, for instance.
Pittsburgh International Airport redevelopment, Moon
The one development on our list outside city limits, PIT is going from an outmoded hub for long-departed US Airways to an upgraded facility designed for current needs. The total price tag is $1.1 billion. The existing landside terminal will be demolished, and the people mover will be eliminated. A microgrid with solar power will provide energy for the airport, completely apart from the electrical grid. Nearby, the Pittsburgh Airport Innovation campus will also get off the ground in the next few years as part of a partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and industry players like Arencibia. The complex will focus on attracting additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) companies and will include 1.4 million square feet of office and manufacturing space.
The Highline, South Side
In 1906, this enormous 868,000-square-foot warehouse complex was built to be the biggest, most efficient shipping hub between New York City and Chicago. Now, it’s being remade into industrial chic office space, with an elevated green space headed toward the river, giving it the name “The Highline” (yes, it’s modeled after the famous elevated railway-turned-park in Manhattan). The project’s estimated cost is $100 million. A retail component, perhaps with breweries, bakeries and restaurants — some with riverfront views — is still pending (though they do already have a nice coffee shop). Nearby, the $70 million Glasshouse project has been completed, bringing 320 apartments to a former parking lot near Station Square.
UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Tower, Uptown
Part of a $2 billion investment in citywide hospital construction by UPMC, the Uptown site adjacent to UPMC Mercy will be devoted to ophthalmologic research and vision restoration and rehabilitation. It will be run by José-Alain Sahel, a world-renowned scientist hired away from the prestigious Vision Institute in Paris. A heart and transplant hospital in Oakland and a cancer-focused hospital in Shadyside are also planned.
The Produce Terminal, Strip District
It was once the pulsating heart of the Strip District when this neighborhood was the region’s main wholesale food distributor. Now, after years of contentious plans and false starts, the multi-block Produce Terminal is being redeveloped by McCaffery Interests into a $62 million, 163,500-square-foot mixed-use complex that will include office space, restaurants and retail.
The mix of tenants is still undetermined, but 40,000 square feet is earmarked for locally-owned businesses. Pathways through the building will connect the Strip to the river in a way that the structure has long prevented. Across the street, McCaffery is transforming the upper floors of several large brick warehouses into high-tech office space and likely ground-floor retail (RIP Costume World). A recent fire there doesn’t seem to be stopping construction.