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Restoration Of Pittsburgh’s Produce Terminal Nears Completion

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Antunovich Associates
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Part of the renovation includes extended platforms and new railings on the Smallman Street side of the building.

The historic Produce Terminal in Pittsburgh’s Strip District is expected to be ready for new tenants this fall. The first phase of renovations was completed last week.

Developer McCaffery Interests invested $50 million in the building’s rehabilitation: the company fixed the masonry, put on a new roof, installed new windows and new lighting and added ramps to make the nearly century-old building ADA accessible.

Built in 1929, the Produce Terminal stretches five blocks from 16th to 21st streets, and was once the heart of the neighborhood’s wholesaling industry. Rail cars used to pull right up alongside the building to allow for efficient loading and unloading. The platforms that once held crates of grapes and bananas have been extended to create more room for people to walk and sit. Pedestrian walkways will run through the building from the river side to Smallman Street at 17th, 18th and 20th streets. A parking lot behind the building can hold 270 cars.

The neighborhood continues to attract new businesses and residents, and leasing for the Produce Terminal will reflect that, said Pamela Austin, senior project manager of development.

“We really are trying to put in a package of stores and restaurants and service retail that will have both daytime and nighttime activity to bring life back to Smallman Street in that section,” she said.

Austin added it’s an economically tough time, but McCaffery Interests is committed to finding restaurants, shops, and businesses that will thrive in the space; at least 25 percent of the terminal will be leased to local entities. Austin said the project doesn’t have any debt, a pretty rare circumstance that allows them more leeway to get it right.

The building’s 160,000 square feet and outdoor spaces are also a strong suit in a world shaped by coronavirus precautions, said Austin.

“It was meant to have platforms where the produce was loaded and unloaded so now those spaces are available for outdoor dining or retailing,” she said.  

It’s been six years since McCaffery first proposed its plan to redevelop the Produce Terminal. Rights to the building were formerly held by the Buncher Company, which intended to demolish nearly one-third of the structure. Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority ultimately paid Buncher $640,000 to release their stake.

The 21st Street end of the terminal is now ready to accept tenants and the rest of the building will welcome businesses in September. Austin said they are currently working on lease negotiations.

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.
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