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Airport Expects To Break Ground On World Trade Center Site This Year

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A plane flies over the South Side in this 2018 photo.

Pittsburgh International Airport will soon break ground on its World Trade Center site. The 195-acre development is expected to host energy and advanced manufacturing facilities.

Allegheny County first paid for a World Trade Center designation decades ago, but its purpose has only recently come into focus, said Vince Gastgeb, the airport’s vice president of government and community affairs.

“I think the World Trade Center site is really focused on energy and...natural gas and that’s what we have on our property,” he said. “As you know we have active natural gas wells, so it kind of all ties together.”

"With the Shell cracker plant just ten miles away, the site is perfectly situated to support development of a regional plastics industry," said Gastgeb.

“The site really looks like a great mixed-use office and some retail and even some visionary aspects of what Pittsburgh’s economy could be with advanced manufacturing and things like that.”

A World Trade Center designation makes a site part of the World Trade Center Association, which touts itself as attracting international trade and establishing exclusive business networks. The airport’s designation abuts land that’s covered by a Foreign Trade Zone, which exempts activities from certain taxes.

Airport officials say they could change the name of the World Trade Center site. They expect to break ground on the first 13-acre phase by the end of 2018.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.