In its latest “Property Lines” feature, Curbed magazine looks at the tech boom currently underway across Pittsburgh, while also asking the critical question: will it be a boon for the entire city?
In his feature story for the American real estate publication—which is accompanied by stunning photographs of Pittsburgh—reporter Patrick Sisson writes:
“The Pennsylvania city’s rebirth as a center of technology and high-tech manufacturing still seems shocking to those who incorrectly picture the city as some Rust Belt casualty. With the intellectual capital of top-flight schools such as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh attracting international talent, and companies such as Apple, Google, and Uber setting up offices, the city has been reborn over the last decade . . . Neighborhoods such as the East End and the Strip District, home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, have emerged as tech hubs, but this is only the beginning. Tech employment in the city jumped 19 percent from 2010 to 2013, and the industry is predicted to employ more than 200,000 people by 2020.”
Examining how Pittsburgh’s industrial past is fueling a tech-focused future, Sisson showcases several transformative projects taking place throughout Pittsburgh—from brownfield redevelopments and tech incubators to housing—and talks to a number of community members working in a variety of industries and sectors.
Sisson highlights the 178-acre Almono site, located along the Monongahela River just south of downtown, once home to a 260,000-square-foot former steel mill. “The largest undeveloped piece of land in Pittsburgh,” Almono is slated to house three million square feet of new buildings, including 2,500 residential units and Mill 19, a research and development center with mixed-use properties, tech offices and incubation spaces for entrepreneurs.
“‘We think it has the potential to be the largest-impact project the city has seen in the last 50 years,’ says Donald F. Smith, Jr., president of the Regional Industrial Development Corporation, a public-private partnership that’s shepherding what could be a multi-billion dollar development that carves a new neighborhood out of the vast brownfield site on the city’s southeast side, near Hazelwood.”
Sisson also discusses the impact of Uber’s strategic new presence in Pittsburgh, as well as other large-scale riverfront developments that have turned former industrial sites into valuable parks and real estate.
In his article, Sisson interviews representatives from a number of local stakeholder nonprofits, startups and universities—who offer insightful perspectives on current tech and residential developments and their impact on the city and its populations—including: Stephan Bontrager with Riverlike; Lenore Blum with Carnegie Mellon and Project Olympus; Reed McManigle with Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation; Nathan Martin of Deeplocal; Kai-Uwe Bergmann at BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group); Ilana Diamond of AlphaLab Gear; and NEXTpitsburgh’s own Brian Conway.
Sisson highlights additional “transformative projects” underway in Pittsburgh, including a proposed 28-acre masterplan for the Lower Hill District created by BIG, the renowned architecture and design firm based in Copenhagen and New York City.
In his conclusion, Sisson asks:
“Almono, as well as other tech-focused developments, offer a great opportunity for advancement; but will it also be a catalyst for gentrification?”—while Smith “cited two rising neighborhoods, Larimer and Homewood, on the opposite side of town, as potential beneficiaries as the industry continues to expand.”
Read the entire article in Curbed.