Neighbors are optimistic about the latest plan to create offices, restaurants, apartments and maybe a new public market in the Strip District's historic produce terminal.
The city's Urban Redevelopment Authority voted Thursday afternoon to approve the mixed-use proposal from Chicago-based developer McCaffery Interests, which maintains an office on Smallman Street.
The produce terminal stretches for seven blocks along Smallman Street in the Strip and, aside from a flower vendor, its only other tenant is the Society for Contemporary Craft on the easternmost end.
The society’s executive director, Janet McCall, said she’s “thrilled” that the plan acknowledges the building’s historic role as a food center while looking toward the future with three walkways to improve access to planned riverfront developments.
“Although they are talking about pedestrian cut-throughs and enhancements to the Smallman side of the street, they seem to be really maintaining the integrity of the building overall," McCall said. "So, it still has its same iconic structure, but I think it’s going to be much more user-friendly.”
Across the street at the busy restaurant Smallman Galley, co-owner Tyler Benson said the redevelopment would be good for business.
“The Strip has been on an upward trajectory for the last few years, and I think (the redevelopment is) going to continue that trend," Benson said. "I would want to see it developed in a way that is sensitive to and maintains its historic façade and its historic value.”
Benson's business partner, Ben Mantica, envisioned the produce terminal’s potential public market as a new Pittsburgh destination.
“Like Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco and Pike’s Place in Seattle, this could be something that even surpasses those," Mantica said. "It’s sad that it’s been empty for so long, but the prospect of redevelopment is really exciting.”
McCall said she's also excited for what's next at the produce terminal.
“I really see this building as having the potential to be what they call a ‘first-day attraction,’ where people coming to Pittsburgh put this at the top of the list,” McCall said.
McCaffery’s plan would require some amount of public subsidy, but the city would keep ownership of the property. The plan will still need to be approved by City Council and the mayor before reconstruction can start.