After five years of debate, redevelopment of the Strip District Produce Terminal will begin next month, a project expected to transform the neighborhood and its landmark 1926 building.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority unanimously approved the renovation during a standing room-only meeting this afternoon Downtown. The approval hinges upon a final review of drawings, evidence of financing, and receipt of a minority and women-owned business enterprises plan. The URA expects to receive final drawings within a few days, authority Executive Director Robert Rubinstein said.
The URA will continue to own the Produce Terminal and has granted McCaffery Interests, Inc., a 99-year ground lease, per Pamela Austin, senior project manager at McCaffery.
McCaffery will lead the renovation, adding retail, restaurants, and offices at the building, which stretches along five blocks of Smallman Street. Tenants have yet to be contracted. Plans also call for 277 parking spaces and crosswalks for pedestrians.
Work will begin on the portion of the building closest to Downtown, and construction is expected to finish in summer 2020.
“It’s the most simple of structures and the most complex of projects,” Austin said.
Simultaneously with its work on the Produce Terminal, McCaffery will redevelop 1600 Smallman (the warehouse across the street) with ground-floor retail beneath offices. Additional parking will be located in the basement there, and a parking garage will be built for 1600 Smallman, as well.
Together, the projects will cost $100 million, about evenly split between the two, Austin said.
The projects will be completed with union labor and the developer must include MWBE representatives, URA leaders said. The two buildings are expected to create more than 600 new jobs, and space will be set aside for locally owned businesses, the URA said.
Austin, herself a Strip District resident, said the vision is to mirror the qualities of Penn Avenue.
“I’m very thrilled that we finally get to build what we’ve been dreaming for so long,” she said. “I hope that everyone will appreciate the sensitivity and the thoughtfulness to trying to keep the structure in tact.”
Over the past five years, many city departments have helped to rehab Smallman Street, Rubinstein said, noting water and sewage upgrades and pedestrian access improvements “to create a public realm that becomes a destination, as well as providing access to the river through the creation of three pedestrian pass-throughs through this five-block long building.”
Contemporary Craft, a longtime anchor tenant of the terminal building, announced today that it will relocate to Lawrenceville. In negotiations, McCaffery gave Contemporary Craft two options: Move to a different location in the building or take a $1.3 million payment to find a new location, Rubinstein said.
Contemporary Craft described its new Butler Street building as “a $5.5 million investment in the future of arts and culture in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” in a press release. Construction in Lawrenceville is slated to begin in July with a grand opening planned for March 2020.