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Identity & Community

Riverlife President's Tenure Comes to an End

After 15 years as President and CEO of Riverlife, a pro-riverfront development organization, Lisa Schroeder is leaving Pittsburgh.

“The rivers were, in many ways, the sewer of the region, as well as an industrial highway,” Schroeder said. “So it really took some deep digging philosophically to start looking at the riverfronts as the natural treasure.”

During her tenure at Riverlife, Schroeder saw Pittsburgh transform from one of the most polluted regions in the nation, to a front runner in the green cities movement. Thirteen miles of riverfront trails, 850 acres of public space and a $128.8 million investment in the riverfront park system have been added to the city since she joined the then-called Riverlife Task Force.

Schroeder said riverfront improvements have resulted in an additional $4.1 billion in development.

“The quality of development that we’re seeing coming into Pittsburgh is, frankly, our wildest dreams 15 years ago,” she said. “It’s really great to see developers locally and coming in from all over the country viewing waterfront as premium property.”

Three Crossings is one such project.  On Dec. 9, Oxford Development Company held a ceremonial groundbreaking in the Strip District for the $130 million multi-use facility that will include 300 studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments with rents ranging from $1,100 to more than $2,000 per month.

And, while she might be leaving the city, Schroeder’s confident that developments such as these will continue in her absence.

“I have a lot of faith that the action and the energy and the momentum is only going to increase in the future and it’s really been thrilling to see it,” she said.

But Schroeder does have a couple requests for her soon-to-be former employers.

She wants to see the Great Allegheny Passage trail connect Point State Park to the Smithfield Bridge along the Monongahela Wharf, as well as more development in South Side Works. Schroeder is leaving in January for her hometown of Baltimore, Maryland to become the President and CEO of the Parks and People Foundation.

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