Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced today that the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) Board of Directors this Thursday will vote to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the URA and The Buncher Company that will advance the proposed Strip District development, beginning with rehabilitation of the Produce Terminal. In addition, the URA and Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) will work to nominate a Strip Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places, and will establish a fund to provide financing for historic façade renovations in the District, through contributions from The Buncher Company.
“This agreement is the trigger to advance our vision for more jobs and development along the Strip and Allegheny riverfront – a major undertaking that is a key part of Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance,” said Ravenstahl. “This $400 million development opportunity will greatly enhance this community and create more jobs, attract new residents and reconnect the Strip to our greatest natural asset – our riverfronts.”
The MOU agreement has several functions:
- It establishes the conditions for how the Produce Terminal will be rehabilitated, including several historically sensitive rehabs, such as end cap reconstruction, masonry repair, clerestory window replacement, canopy refurbishment, and garage door replacements;
- It details modernization investments that will make the building functional for future tenants;
- It establishes the Strip District Restoration Fund to support private property owners who wish to invest in historic façade improvements;
- It sets the stage to have the Strip District eligible historic district nominated to the National Register for Historic Places;
- It establishes the conclusion to the historic review process and initiates the process that will lead The Buncher Company to make its decision on whether to exercise their option to purchase the Produce Terminal.
"We have an opportunity in this project to preserve the historically significant Terminal Building with an economically viable adaptive re-use that will allow us to access and build riverfront housing while protecting and enhancing the essence of what has made the Strip District great,” said Senator Jim Ferlo.
The Buncher Company will contribute $150,000 over time to the Strip District Restoration Fund. Guidelines for the fund will be determined between the URA, PHLF and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC). The URA and PHLF will coordinate with the PHMC in support of a nomination to the National Register and the URA and PHLF will split the cost to file the formal nomination.
“Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is pleased to have been a part of this historic review process and looks forward to working with The Buncher Company and the URA to ensure that future development preserves the Strip in a way that is deserving of this uniquely urban neighborhood,” said Arthur Ziegler, PHLF president. “I applaud the Mayor for his vision to invest in our urban fabric and his commitment to our riverfronts as assets of Pittsburgh's rich heritage. Working together, we are preserving the Strip to be enjoyed for future generations.”
The Buncher Company and URA have been working for more than a year with various architects, consultants, stakeholders and the local historic community to get to this point. This agreement will allow The Buncher Company to schedule infrastructure work of a new roadway this spring, and continue the planning and design work for its proposed office building at 13th St., while finalizing conceptual plans for the Produce Terminal and its surrounding properties.
This development is a key part of the Mayor’s Allegheny Riverfront vision plan, a community and market-driven plan that seeks to maximize the development potential for riverfront neighborhoods. The Buncher Company has an extensive development and construction portfolio, with more than 10 million leasable square feet. Buncher's 1.3 million square feet of existing office space in the Strip District is 96 percent occupied, employing more than 5,000 workers.
The URA Board of Directors meets Thurs., Feb. 9 at 2 p.m. in the URA offices at 200 Ross St., Downtown.