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Downtown Reflections. Photograph by Brian Cohen.
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Pittsburgh Public Market reopens in new location

Forced from its space in the old produce terminal and into a new, greener, climate-controlled building, the Pittsburgh Public Market is back up and running at 2401 Penn Avenue, following a soft opening last Wednesday.

“We did the soft opening because the merchants depends on the money as income, but we also thought it was important to get it open,” says Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip. “When you go in there, you’ll still see people working on their booths.”

The new Public Market features 25,000 square feet of space, about 10,000 square feet of which are rentable, rendering it just about the same size as the market’s old location, but with greater capability.

The East End Brewery is back to hosting its regular growler hours there, now with eight taps on hand — double the number it had in the old space. Olive oil merchant The Olive Tap will occupy an 1,800-square-foot space in the new building and the market is bringing in several new vendors, including yet-to-be-revealed cheese and wine vendors.

“There are a lot of great merchants in there right now,” Rodger says, adding that she expects around 20 businesses to occupy the space during the week in the market's first year, with more coming in just on weekends.

The new Pittsburgh Public Market will hold a grand opening at the end of November. Until then, the market will maintain the regular hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Becky Rodgers

Pittsburgh Technical Institute opening Energy Technology Center

Pittsburgh Technical Institute will hold the grand opening of its new Energy Technology Center next Thursday, officially cutting the ribbon on the home of the region’s first program geared toward training students for electronics jobs in the energy field.

The center occupies more than 15,000 square feet on PTI’s North Fayette Campus and will house PTI’s programs in HVAC technology, Welding and Oil & Gas Electronics. PTI rolled out the latter two programs earlier this year after working with a cadre of energy companies to assess their positional needs in the industry.

Though the oil and gas electronics program began its first classes earlier this month, George Pry, PTI’s executive vice president, estimates that it will ultimately churn out between 80 and 100 graduates per year, none of whom will have trouble finding jobs.

“There’s a need,” Pry says. “They’ll take as many as they can get out there. It’s where we are today, the same as where we were with the steel industry 80 or 100 years ago. There are very well-paying, middle-class jobs available that we need to fill with our graduates. When we see a need, we go for it.”

Felix Cardella, of TKA Architects, designed the $3.5 million center and Homestead-based Franjo Construction served as the general contractor. It contains nearly $1 million worth of industry-specific equipment, about $750,000 of which was donated by corporate partners.

“It’s filling a very specific need for energy companies,” says Linda Allan, PTI’s director of public relations. “With the exponential growth of the Marcellus Shale exploration and development, all of the supporting industries are benefitting from what’s going on.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: George Pry, Linda Allan

Eat + Drink: tacos, pierogies and all kinds of beer!

Eat & Drink is Pop City's roundup of local epic nomz.

Casa Reyna opens taco stand
Here’s a new game to play with your friends: how far down any one stretch of Penn Avenue do you need to travel before finding a place to buy a great taco?

Whatever the answer was, the distance just got shorter. Casa Reyna, the restaurant sister of Nic DiCio’s Reyna Market in the Strip District opened up a taco stand outside its 2031 Penn Avenue space. The stand will be open daily from 10 a.m. to about 7 p.m., depending on business, year-round.

First annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival
A host of local restaurants will converge at South Shore Riverfront Park this Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. to present the inaugural Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival. Vendors will include Bar Marco, BRGR, Franktuary, Marty’s Market and more. Admission to the event is free and all vendors will be cash-only.

To learn more about the first annual Pittsburgh Pierogi Festival, check it out on Twitter or visit its Facebook page.

Pumking at D’s
For those in in the full swing of fall, D’s Six Pax and Dogz in Regent Square will fill its massive tap room with a vast selection of pumpkin beers starting Friday. In addition to pumpkin beers already on tap, D’s will roll out Southern Tier Pumpking not only from this year, but cellar-aged kegs from the previous three years.

“We’ll also have the Southern Tier Warlock, which is a stout made with Pumking. There’ll be a bunch of other pumpkin beers but it’s really about the Pumking,” says D’s Beer Czar Justin “Hootie” Blakey.

Penn Brewery wins at the Great American Beer Festival
Penn Brewery’s Chocolate Meltdown, a chocolate stout which the brewery plans to release this winter, took home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival this month.

“It was an old homebrew recipe of mine. I brought it in and we scaled it up,” says Nick Rosich, one of Penn’s brewers. “We get all our chocolate from Besty Ann over here in West View. We use that in the kettle, and we use quite a bit of lactose to bring out that milky creaminess. It’s a chocolate milk stout.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Justin Blakey, Nick Rosich

New 'innovation campus' coming to East Liberty

Kit Mueller, co-founder of Rustbuilt and Built In Pittsburgh, plans to buy the building at 6400 Hamilton Avenue in East Liberty and turn it into something he’s calling The Forge — Pittsburgh’s first innovation campus.

“The intent is to provide a framework for all that’s happening in that neck of the woods,” says Mueller.

Each floor in the 98,000 square-foot building is big enough to hold one fairly large company, as well as flexible space for growing companies. The building, which is more than 100 years old and formerly served as a slaughterhouse, will include education and maker space, a rooftop nanotel — living quarters made from recycled shipping containers for use by visiting teachers and innovators — and agritecture, a state-of-the-art operation for sustainable, urban, indoor farming.

The building should be ready for tenants within about 20 months.

“Other rust belt cities are doing this sort of thing, and this will add our own special flavor for what’s going on here in the ‘Burgh,” he says. “This wouldn’t be feasible in some other parts of the city, and we’re glad to be doing it where the rest of the innovation is happening.”

One of the main ideas behind building an innovation campus, Mueller says, is that it would not only provide affordable space for businesses coming out of startup incubators, but that it would have enough space to retain them as they grew and keep them in geographically close like-minded institutions, such as Google, Tech Shop and Thrill Mill.

“You never have to grow out of the building. You come out of the accelerators and grow into a full floor.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kit Mueller

Old McKees Rocks railroad yard will become new freight facility

CSX Corporation, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based railway transportation conglomerate which owns and operates some 21,000 miles of railroad in the Eastern United States, will build an intermodal facility in McKees Rocks.

The facility, which will be located at the site of the former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Yard, will allow manufacturers in the region more direct access to freight rail, as well as reduce transit costs associated with shipping various products to the region.

“The manufacturing businesses and infrastructure that were built around it 100 years ago are all still in place,” says Taris Vrcek, executive director of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation. “It fits nicely and it’s directly adjacent to the industrial park we’ve been building.”

The $50 million facility, one of nearly 48 CSX controls nationwide, will occupy some 70 acres and ultimately bring multiple hundreds of jobs to the area. Construction will begin in 2015, with the aim of the intermodal facility opening the following year.

“This kind of impact is even more compelling if you think about how compact lower McKees Rocks is. This facility is going to attract other businesses that want to be near it,” Vrcek says. “The portion of land CSX is going to occupy is kind of narrow, and really doesn’t lend itself to anything else.”

Vrcek added that the eventual impact the facility could have on McKees Rocks could be immeasurable, citing projected positive effects on the area’s Main Street Project and entertainment district, on top of the adjacent 50-acre industrial park which will be ready for construction next year.

“We really feel like we’re creating this mix of old and new Pittsburgh,” he says. “It builds that snowball effect. The prospects for success here are becoming more and more solid.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Taris Vrcek 

Space at 1100 Smallman will be 59 new rental units

The Strip District is re-emerging as a residential neighborhood and developer Brian Schreiber is the latest to get in on the action.

Schreiber and his Shadyside-based Schreiber Real Estate will construct a 59-unit apartment building at 1100 Smallman Street, right where the Strip meets Downtown. The structure, which will stand six stories, will encompass a building Schreiber currently owns at the address in addition to an entirely new structure.

“It’s really within the central business district, so it’s well-suited to people who work there,” Schreiber says.

The complex Schreiber is currently calling 1100 Smallman will contain about 60,000 square feet. About two-thirds of the building will be one-bedroom units, and the other third will be comprised of two-bedroom apartments. Each unit will have one bathroom per bedroom. 1100 Smallman will include on-site parking, exercise facilities, a partial roof garden, community rooms and outdoor deck areas.

Art Lubetz’s Front Studio Architects will serve as the designing firm. The parties haven’t yet agreed on a contractor, and Schreiber says he’ll likely choose a leasing agent by the middle of next year. Schreiber says he anticipates rents at 1100 Smallman to range between $1,400 and $1,800 per month. Lubetz is also designing the condos at nearby 1135 Penn, which will be ready offer significant tax credits and will be ready in a few months.

1100 Smallman will not touch any part of Schreiber’s nearby properties, including the buildings housing popular restaurants Eleven and Lidia’s Pittsburgh

The apartment building is scheduled to be completed by either late winter or early spring of 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Brian Schreiber

Two Downtown Pittsburgh programs garner international recognition

During its World Congress and annual conference in New York City last week, the International Downtown Association recognized a two of Downtown Pittsburgh’s innovative improvement programs.

The Paris to Pittsburgh Sidewalk Activation and Façade Improvement Program received a Downtown Pinnacle Award, and the Peoples Gas Holiday Market claimed a Merit Award. Both programs are the work of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

“The façade program, we were told, was chosen because of its longevity. When you walk around Downtown, it’s easy to see the impact that this program has had,” says PDP spokesperson Leigh White. “In Market Square, there’s hardly a single restaurant which hasn’t taken advantage of Paris to Pittsburgh. It’s definitely changed the face of the city.”

As a Pinnacle Award recipient, the PDP is responsible for producing a webinar on its winning project, and spreading its methods of downtown revival to other cities making to look improvements. That’s nothing new for the PDP, whose staffers are regularly asked to make presentations on Project Pop Up to other downtown associations looking to innovate.

The holiday market, on the other hand, is a relatively new program.

“It was just introduced last winter, and we’re really excited to bring it back this year,” White says. “The whole reason for doing it is that we felt there was a need to have something anchored for the season in Downtown Pittsburgh.”

The holiday market, which serves as a benefit for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, raised $25,000 last year. White anticipates eclipsing that mark this year. The market will open the day after Light Up Night and run an extra week. The PDP plans to more than double the number of participating vendors and make Market Square “feel more like a village,” according to White.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Transit Tales will bring locals' stories from the bus to the stage

Just like the subway in New York City, the metro in Washington, D.C. or the EL in Chicago, if you’ve ever ridden a bus to get from place to place in Pittsburgh, chances are you have a story.

Now, the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and Pittsburghers for Public Transit are teaming up with Bricolage Production Company to collect and deliver those stories with Transit Tales — a creative project which aims to both entertain and raise awareness about Pittsburgh’s transportation issues.

“There really is a community out there of transit riders. They might not be a close-knit community, but they are a community, and their voices need to be heard because transit is so important to the well-being of our region,” says Chris Sandvig, regional policy director for the PCRG.

Husband-and-wife team Tami Dixon and Jeffrey Carpenter, who run Bricolage, have been collecting stories since the spring. They plan to integrate them into a number of different productions, including their popular Wordplay series, which mixes live storytelling with music mash-ups, and Fifth Wall, which blurs the line between scripted storytelling and current events.

“We always say the bus is the great equalizer,” Dixon says. “You could be sandwiched between a CEO and a homeless person and we’re all travelling together — we can see how we’re all connected."

Carpenter added that Transit Tales won’t be limited to theatrical production. There will be photography exhibits, audiovisual art and collaborations to broadcast transit riders’ stories on local radio.

“In doing a project like this, you have to let the material dictate what the result is,” he says.

“We don’t really think of it this way,” Sandvig added, “but transportation is a human service, and delivery of it is crucial to how we live our lives.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Chris Sandvig, Tami Dixon, Jeffrey Carpenter

Carnegie Robotics expanding into new Lawrenceville facility

Carnegie Robotics, a for-profit outgrowth of the robotics program at Carnegie Mellon University which has operated from a trio of spaces since its inception, will move into a large new space in Lawrenceville next spring.

“It’s a bit of a long project but we’re remodeling a new facility and moving into that,” says John Bares, the company’s president and CEO, adding that the structure would contain new engineering and production facilities.

The 100-year-old Heppenstall Building, located at 4501 Hatfield Street and owned by RIDC, includes three-and-a-half acres of property and will be refitted to suit the company’s needs using various teams of contractors. Its 29,000 square feet will be expanded both through adding floors to the current warehouse and and the addition of a sub-building.

“It’s significant,” Bares says. “We’re spread across three different facilities today. It gives us an instant doubling of facility space and square footage, so that’s wonderful.”

Carnegie Robotics develops technology used in agriculture, mining and defense work. Its primary goal centers around developing robots which can make decisions based on sensory perception.

“We’re on a consistent march and here to stay,” says Bares, who added that while the company looked at space in the greater Pittsburgh area outside the city limits, it settled on the old Lawrenceville warehouse to both stay close to its current partners and to the Carnegie Mellon Campus.

“There’s a huge advantage to us to remain in the city,” he says. “It’s where the great talent is.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: John Bares

AlphaLab Gear, new accelerator, signs lease in East Liberty

AlphaLab Gear, a new accelerator from the South Side-based InnovationWorks program, has signed a lease for space in East Liberty.

Colliers International, the leasing agent for the new East Liberty developments at Indigo Square and the nearby space on Broad Street, confirmed that AlphaLab Gear will occupy 10,000 square feet and its lease includes rights to expand. The space, located at 6024 Broad Street, places it right next door to Thrill Mill and its business incubator, HustleDen, and within close proximity to the Tech Shop and Google’s Pittsburgh headquarters.

“It’s great to have these types of business. If we can mash together enough high-tech, like-minded startup groups, that can start a great tech community in that area,” says Mark Anderson, vice president of office and retail brokerage with Colliers.

AlphaLab Gear is a new accelerator for companies creating hardware, robotics and other physical products, says Terri Glueck of Innovation Works. Their AlphaLab, which is on the South Side, runs two sessions per year, each lasting 20 weeks. During sessions, enrolled entrepreneurs receive $25,000 in investment capital, office space, mentoring and educational sessions to help get their fledgling companies off the ground.

“We were interested from the beginning in having tech companies in the area. It’s good for East Liberty and Pittsburgh as a whole to mass these tech companies in one location,” Anderson added.

Anderson added that the building at the corner of Highland Avenue and Broad Street still has some 9,000 square feet available in retail and office space.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Mark Anderson

Eat + Drink: A harvest dinner at Six Penn, a new sub shop Downtown and more

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of local food news.

Downtown gets new sub shop
Penn Station East Coast Subs, which offers hot and cold sandwiches in a fast-casual atmosphere, will open its third Pittsburgh location at 808 Liberty Avenue in Downtown.

The new shop is the latest franchise installment from father-son team Denny and Jon Keidel and partner John Adams. They also own locations on Centre Avenue in Shadyside and William Penn Highway in Monroeville.

Lawrenceville juice bar opening new location
Embody Natural Health, the Upper Lawrenceville juice and smoothie spot from Aimee Woods, will open a second location in Wexford later this month.

In addition to juices and smoothies, the new location will offer nutrition and lifestyle counseling services as well as yoga and fitness classes and acupuncture workshops.

“It’s really been developing and we’re adding on,” says Embody’s Rachel Miller.

Juice Up 412 to hold free tasting
Juice Up 412, the East Liberty-based juice bar which operates out of The Livermore, will hold a free tasting on Monday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eat + Drink profiled Juice Up 412 back in August, and highly recommends trying them out if you haven't already.

Six Penn hosts harvest dinner
To celebrate eight years in business, Six Penn Kitchen will host a special five-course harvest dinner tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m.

The menu, which will include appetizers, cheese and dessert courses, is headlined with entrees of buttered scallops and mussels served with a local corn broth, as well as a short rib course with popcorn grits, grilled squash and port demi-glace.

The dinner is $75, or $50 without wine pairings. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 412-566-7366.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Rachel Miller

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh to "spruce up" its West End branch

One of Pittsburgh’s oldest libraries is getting some major upgrades.

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s West End branch will close on October 19th while the 114-year-old building gets some much-needed improvements, including a remodeled first floor, a new slate roof and a climate control system.

“We’re calling it a spruce up,” says CLP Communications Manager Suzanne Thinnes. “People will see and feel a drastic change in the building.”

Headlining the list of other improvements to the library is the installation of central air conditioning. The branch has been forced to close a multiple times during the summer when the heat index made being inside nearly unbearable. The library will also get an elevator, making each floor of the building more accessible to greater numbers of patrons.

While CLP won’t move the West End’s materials collection to a temporary location as it did during building renovation in Lawrenceville, the West End will have a temporary setup at the nearby Library Support Center. West End patrons will be able to request items from other libraries, pick them up and return them at the temporary setup. Additionally, the library’s regular programming and activities, such as children’s story time and history club meetings, will continue at a host of other locations while the building is under construction.

Patrons needing fuller service and resources while the branch is closed are being advised to use CLP’s nearby Sheraden branch until the West End location opens next spring.

“The new space will be comfortable. I think the community will be pleased with it,” Thinnes says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Suzanne Thinnes

The Hill District gets its first new grocery store in 30 years

The Hill District, a once-thriving cultural center which fell on hard times during urban renewal, will mark a major event in its path toward revival next Thursday when it welcomes a Shop ‘n Save into the community.

Located at 1850 Centre Avenue, the 29,500-square-foot supermarket will be the Hill District’s first new grocery store in more than 30 years.

“This is a food-poor area. People here wanted access to fresh food,” says Cheryl Hall-Russell, president and CEO of Hill House Association and the Hill House Economic Development Corporation, which owns the shopping center where the market is located and was instrumental in bringing it to the neighborhood. “People had tired of the conversation of whether or not the neighborhood deserved a grocery store. Food is just a basic need. It’s not about who deserves it.”

After years of negotiating with different chains, Hill House found a willing partner in Jeff Ross, who owns several Shop ‘n Save locations in several of western Pennsylvania’s underserved communities.

“The community wanted a full-service grocery store, and Ross Markets was willing to bring that. It’s a good brand that has a good reputation,” says Hall-Russell, who emphasized that one of the organization’s goals is to unify the Upper, Middle and Lower Hill. “There’s going to be a lot going on down there. I think it’s important that the Hill District be looked at as The Hill District. We’re going to have to work in concert with one another.”

The store will employ 120 people, 60 percent of whom hail from the Hill District. A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place next Thursday, and Hill House will hold a large block party to celebrate on the following Saturday.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Cheryl Hall-Russell

Warhol Museum debuts new first-floor design inspired by the artist's own space

The Andy Warhol Museum, which pays tribute to the life and career of the world’s most famous and influential pop artist, will debut a new look and layout to its first floor area next week in the first of a series of scheduled overhauls.

“The museum didn’t have a lot of visual access between the first floor and the street, and with so many people walking around and going to sporting events, we want to draw people in,” says Patrick Moore, the museum’s deputy director.

The museum’s first floor space has been redone with silver-colored brick to evoke feelings of and pay homage to Warhol’s Manhattan studio, The Silver Factory, which Warhol and his friends lined with tin foil.

“Silver was Andy’s favorite color. The silver brick refers back to his factory and gives people context for the work they’ll see,” Moore says. “It’s meant to evoke that era, which was one of innovation for Warhol.”

In addition to new walls, the museum has nearly quadrupled the size of its book shop, installed a large seating area and opened up two window spaces. The new view of the museum lobby will feature disco balls, music piped out into the street, and a clear view of a portrait of Warhol holding his famous Marilyn Monroe acetate.

“It’s very evocative,” says Moore, adding that the new first floor is just step one in a larger plan. Over the course of the next year, the museum will move its café into the new lobby and re-hang its permanent collection in chronological order as a means of making the museum more biographical of the artist it celebrates.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Patrick Moore

ULI Placemaking awards honors five Pittsburgh projects; Tom Murphy issues a challenge for Pittsburgh

The first Placemaker awards from the Urban Land Institute Pittsburgh, “to celebrate the places that make Pittsburgh great,” were announced last week at a luncheon at the Fairmont in 3 PNC, a building lauded for its excellent design and green features. 

Tom Murphy, former mayor of Pittsburgh, received the 2013 Inaugural Placemaker award and two standing ovations from the crowd of 300—before he spoke and after, when he finished his talk by issuing a challenge to Pittsburgh to never settle for less in design and building.

The ULI PLacemaker award winners are:
  • Award for Excellence, Catalytic Place: Market Square Place
  • Award for Excellence, Visual Place: Point Park University – the Academic Village Initiative The Village Park and Wood Street Corridor Enhancements
  • Award for Excellence, Community Place: East End Cooperative House
  • Award for Excellence, Cool Place: Assemble
ULI Pittsburgh received 38 nominees in the first competition. 

In his talk, Murphy referenced an article in the Washington Post which wondered, "How does it happen that in a Rust Belt city with no money, they built a masterpiece of a stadium? These pundits who write about the lack of economic development with stadiums and arts and culture need to come to Pittsburgh."

And in what Murphy said is the best recognition for the city, his three children “have come back to Pittsburgh because it works for them.

“Don’t settle for ‘it will do,’” he warned. "It’s about the quality of what we build. When people come through that tunnel, there’s a collective wow. Challenge yourself to build to the highest quality. Pittsburgh is on a roll and it will continue to be on a roll only if we challenge ourselves to reach.”

Writer: Tracy Certo
Source: ULI, Tom Murphy
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