Pittsburgh’s key sectors have witnessed dramatic changes in recent years, with robotics and technology taking center stage as economic pillars of the metro. These transformations have prompted developers to shift their construction efforts toward redeveloping obsolete industrial structures into innovative buildings. The metro was one of the top Northeast markets for office deliveries in 2019 with 659,000 square feet completed last year alone, on par with the 632,300 square feet of office space delivered year-to-date through July 2020, according to Yardi Matrix data.
Some 1.5 million square feet of office space was underway as of July, with the tech-centric Oakland submarket representing half the total. Despite the coronavirus-mandated halt in construction, two projects broke ground this year, and more than two-thirds of the development pipeline is scheduled for completion by year-end. The list below highlights the largest projects under construction in the metro, based on Yardi Matrix data.
10. The Stacks at 3 Crossings – Building E
The 55,429-square-foot project, expected to come online later this summer, is located on 6 acres at 2875 Railroad St., in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. Oxford Development Co. broke ground on the three-story development in February 2019. Building E is part of The Stacks at 3 Crossings, a larger mixed-use project that will include office and apartment buildings, as well as a parking garage.
The development reconnects the neighborhood to the Allegheny riverfront and represents the adaptive reuse of the former Packaging Corp. of America trucking yards. Medical technology company Smith & Nephew will be the first tenant within the complex, with plans to open a medical education training facility for robotics.
9. East Liberty Center
Highwood Properties has mostly been active in Pittsburgh’s downtown and South Side neighborhoods, but in June 2018, the company broke ground on East Liberty Center, an office development in the Oakland submarket. The 60,000-square-foot project is scheduled for completion in August 2020. The six-story asset is located at 6123 Penn Ave., across the street from the East Liberty Target store. Additionally, the site is close to the city’s universities and thriving tech scene, as well as some of the largest upcoming office projects.
8. Mill 19 – Building B
The 70,000-square-foot Building B represents the second phase of Mill 19, Regional Industrial Development Corp.’s 265,000 square-foot complex located on the 178-acre Hazelwood Green site. The company started construction on the three-story asset in February 2019, with completion scheduled for later this summer.
Building B is located at 4000 Second Ave. in Pittsburgh’s South Side-Technology Drive submarket. The property will house the corporate research and development center for tech company Aptiv, encompassing its office, prototyping, lab and workshop space. Mill 19’s Building A—completed last September—is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute and Manufacturing Futures Initiative.
7. The Boardwalk – Building II
Despite the pandemic-induced slowdown in construction, Burns & Scalo Real Estate was granted exemptions by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development to continue construction on The Boardwalk, a $55 million, two-building office project in Pittsburgh’s Parkway West submarket. Building II will include 110,000 square feet, across five stories, and is expected to come online in October 2020.
Situated at 7000 Park Lane Drive, the project is taking shape near the Mall at Robinson development. Dollar Bank provided a $45 million construction loan for Building 2 that also finances the development of the upcoming Building I.
6. Pittsburgh Athletic Association – Renovation
Another project reshaping the Oakland submarket is Lionstone Investments and Walnut Capital’s Pittsburgh Athletic Association building. The joint venture started redeveloping the 112,000-square-foot property in September 2018, with help from $32.5 million in financing funded by Dollar Bank.
Originally completed in 1911, the building served as the clubhouse for the historic Pittsburgh Athletic Association, whose membership declined over the years, leaving the structure obsolete and vacant. Located at 4215 Fifth Ave., the project is within walking distance of the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Hospitals and Research Campus.
5. The Boardwalk – Building I
Burns & Scalo Real Estate’s second property on the list is the 126,000-square-foot Building I within The Boardwalk project. The company broke ground on the development in February 2019. Completion was initially scheduled for April 2020, but was pushed to December 2020. ConnectiveRx signed a lease to occupy the entire office campus, which will house more than 1,500 new employees. The NEXT Architecture-designed project will also include an adjacent parking lot.
4. 1600 Smallman – Redevelopment
McCaffery Interests’ 1600 Smallman is one of Pittsburgh’s many redevelopments underway. Upon completion, scheduled for December 2020, the 128,000-square-foot downtown Pittsburgh project will also include a restaurant and first-floor retail. The 1921-built structure, which previously served as Standard Underground Cable Co.’s manufacturing unit, stood vacant for more than 40 years. The Chicago-based developer started redeveloping the four-story warehouse in February 2019, five years after starting work on the Produce Terminal building across the street.
3. 5051 Centre Avenue
Also in the Oakland submarket, the University of Pittsburgh and Wexford Science & Technology’s 5051 Centre Avenue is the only owner-occupied asset on the list. The 200,000-square-foot, health-care research development is slated for delivery in September 2021. Ventas originated $200 million in construction financing in May 2019. The eight-story property, once home to Ford Motor Co., is located at 5000 Baum Blvd. and will house researchers supported by the university’s Immune Transplant and Therapy Center.
2. Innovation Research Tower
Walnut Capital’s upcoming Innovation Research Tower is the newest office project under development in Pittsburgh. The company broke ground on the 280,000-square-foot asset in May 2020, after demolishing four vacant properties at Fifth Avenue and Halket Street. Completion of the 10-story property is scheduled for June 2022. The building is taking shape in Oakland’s South Side-Technology Drive submarket, at 3342 Fifth Ave. At full build-out, it will feature laboratory and research space, 6,200 square feet of retail and one level of parking, as well as a 4,900-square-foot public square.
1. Bakery Office Three
The largest office project underway is also being developed by Walnut Capital. Construction on the 306,333-square-foot asset started in September 2018, with completion slated for October 2020. Dollar Bank provided an $85.5 million construction loan. Bakery Office Three will be anchored by Philips Sleep and Respiratory Care, which claimed more than 200,000 square feet in the building. The asset is located at 6200 Penn Ave., in Pittsburgh’s Oakland submarket, right next to Bakery Office Two, another Walnut Capital project completed in 2016.