Thursday, July 18, 2013

RiverParc development proposal back from the dead?

Back in 2006, Washington, PA-based Concord Eastridge and some architects from Toronto, Copenhagen, and Stuggart, Germany, submitted a proposal to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for a Cultural District development called RiverParc. This complex was to include a four-star hotel, restaurant and retail use as well as several residential units that would house some three thousand residents. In 2008, due to the collapse in the housing market and an agglomeration of other factors, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust shelved the project indefinitely.

Today, with the housing market on the rebound and with Pittsburgh's housing market red hot, there might be some life to this little proposal. Concord Eastridge has expressed continued interest in developing this part of the Strip District, and is about to commence its litigation against the Cultural Trust over charges of misrepresentation and breach of contract when the Cultural Trust decided not to move forward with this project.

About River Parc

RiverParc was to encompass roughly fourteen square blocks between 7th and 9th Streets, and between Ft. Duquesne Boulevard and Penn Avenue. The residential units were to include apartments, condos, and townhouses, with some of the apartment and condo towers rising some 20 to 30 floors. Other features of this development include rooftop terraces, parks, winter gardens, and an art gallery and possibly a floating stage.

Currently, a Goodyear auto repair place occupies much of the land as do a few lightly-used buildings. Given that the buildings date to the early 1900s or 1920s, the developer has indicated in its initial announcement that these buildings would be preserved. The rest of the land would give way to the newer buildings that would make up the bulk of River Parc.

Regarding the surrounding neighborhood, the city's Cultural District is a vibrant theater district with several theaters, including Heinz Hall (home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra), the Benedum Center (Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera), Wilson Theater, and Byam Theater. This Downtown neighborhood also includes several trendy restaurants and shops that cater to theater-goers.

I see this project as becoming a massive asset to the city. Downtown is already a hot residential market, and the housing market overall is a very strong one. I don't see any reason why this project should not be built. This project has great potential to:
  • Enhance Downtown's pedestrian activity after typical business hours.
  • Significantly add to the diversity of uses already present.
  • Function as a destination for city-goers as well as those who venture off to the theaters downtown.
  • Make a noticeable impact on the city's skyline, especially for those viewing Downtown from the Northside.
For additional information:

Article pertaining to initial announcement from 2006