The Urban Redevelopment Authority Board voted today to approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the URA and The Buncher Company to begin renovation of the Strip District. Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said this would bring about new riverfront development and modernization of the area while preserving the historic Produce Terminal. Arthur Ziegler, President of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF), said the refurbishments will maintain the function of the district's historic structures and not detract from its authenticity.
"We want to be sure that the sort of random urban quality, the natural quality of the Strip, remains. The plan for the improvements around the Produce Terminal will be much more urban. We won't just have a green park around it, we'll have a street and parking around it like a real city street," Ziegler said.
Ziegler said the PHLF will partner with the URA to establish a Strip District Restoration Fund, through contributions from The Buncher Company, to provide financing for future renovations. This partnership will also set the stage for the district's nomination into the National Register of Historic Places.
"I think that what we're going to see here is an interesting amalgamation of good new riverfront development that nevertheless honors an historic area that is deep in the Pittsburgh fiber architecturally and psychologically," Ziegler said.
Ravenstahl said the URA and The Buncher Company have been working with various architects, consultants, stakeholders, and the local historic community for over a year to initiate the plan.
"There is still much to be done with zoning, planning, and infrastructure, but we are confident that our long range vision for the development of our property and the adjacent Produce Terminal in the Strip District is finally coming to reality," said Buncher Company President Tom Balestrieri.
If the agreement passes, The Buncher Company will finally be able to schedule infrastructure work as early as this spring for a new roadway, and finalize its plans for the Produce Terminal and its surrounding properties.