Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Part of Historic Strip Produce Terminal To Be Taken Down

Plans are in the works by the owner of the iconic wholesale produce market on Smallman Street to tear down about a third of the building as part of a larger plan to better connect the Allegheny River waterfront.

It (Buncher) is seeking to tear down a section of the terminal between the 16th Street Bridge and 17th Street, or about 528 feet of the 1,478-foot-long building.

Even as it described the terminal as a "Pittsburgh icon," the URA argued that its length and unbroken nature "inhibits the development of the Allegheny River frontage."

"The combination of the terminal and the 16th Street Bridge creates barriers that limit redevelopment of the area to the 'gated community'-type project, and reduce the opportunity for public access to the river," it wrote in its application to the state.

"Removing a block of the produce terminal allows the riverfront connection, and allows the new development of the riverfront parcel the visual and physical connection to the rest of the city that will allow the new development the greatest chance of success."

Plans for the property include constructing a 75 unit residential building as well as offices and retail. The existing-Pittsburgh Public Market which now occupies the space would move to the remaining part of the building.

Generally, I strongly support the plan. People need to appreciate history while being honest about the current Strip which does not work very well for wholesalers (who originally depended on rail terminals) or support thriving retail beyond very limited hours.

Developing a more normal street grid and integrating the Strip better with the river and the Downtown will improve both by making the area more dense and accessible to pedestrians. When will Buncher start to do the same thing with the hideously ugly superblock buildings it owns on Liberty Ave?

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