In the neighborhood redevelopment business, it’s common to encourage art galleries, coffee shops and/or restaurants to set up in the main business district. They tend to generate the kind of foot traffic that brings vitality to the street.
For the southern Pittsburgh neighborhood of Carrick, the focus is “The Dairy District,” since the city’s oldest dairy, Colteryahn, is right there on Brownsville Road.
The Dairy District is going to continue as a concept in Carrick even after the beloved Colteryahn brand disappears. Colteryahn was recently purchased by Turner Dairy Farms, another iconic local brand (their iced tea is particularly ubiquitous). The Penn Hills-based dairy is going to keep the Carrick dairy going, under the “Pittsburgh Special-T” brand.
“Colteryahn would have been 100 in June,” says Becky Gallagher, who was Colteryahn’s sales and marketing director. “We made it to our hundredth year.
“The Turners have been absolutely wonderful to all of us. Their investment going forward in Carrick speaks volumes for them.”
The Dairy District was intended to spark some transformational change while providing a solid anchor for the neighborhood. The most visible aspect is the Historic Dairy District Marketplace, a soaring wooden pavilion designed by Desmone Architects that gave the underutilized farmer’s market (open 3-7 p.m. Wednesdays) a much more visible, permanent home.
“It’s been open two years now,” says Greg Jones, executive director of Economic Development South. “The initial plan was this open market space for the farmer’s market and other events. Attendance has grown steadily. There have been 15-20 events: ice cream events, Brews and Bites got several hundred [visitors] last year. Leadership Pittsburgh did an art installation there.”
And interest is picking up in the “dairy” aspect of the Dairy District.
“The idea was to have it be a focal point,” says Gallagher. “And attract merchants that would be into the dairy district. A national restaurant company was interested in moving to the area, for instance.”
There are a few things brewing that aren’t ready to be announced. One possibility is Rivendale Farms, an organic, sustainable Washington County dairy owned by Thomas Tull — movie mogul (Legendary Entertainment, “The Dark Knight” trilogy) and minority owner of the Steelers — and ex-Steelers lineman Chris Hoke. They’re in talks to make high-end yogurt, ice cream and other products in Carrick, in part of the old Colteryahn property.
Turner is keeping most of the Colteryahn employees along with the plant.
“What we used to do at Colteryahn – we co-packed for private label national dairy companies,” explains Gallagher. “That’s continuing. Milk, juices, drinks, teas, sour cream. We’ll also produce products for Turner’s. Turner’s plant was overwhelmed, so this gives them some additional capacity.”
That, too, might prove to be a catalyst. “As Turner’s gets established, we’re going to try to do some streetscape beautification investments,” says Jones. “At that point, the hope is that the private market steps in. I think it makes an interesting location for someone to start a restaurant. For a budding entrepreneur, Brownsville Road is pretty great — quality spaces, and entry to the market is pretty low.”