Something New Brewing at Iron City

It will be much later in the decade before we know if the redevelopment of the old Iron City Brewery will have gone ahead as presented earlier this week, but at least there is now a clear idea of where the program is going.

The master plan done by DLA + Architecture is pretty ambitious, with over 500,000 sq. ft. of commercial space plus the potential for more residential in that space. There will also be a 930-car garage. What struck me was that it seems to have a similar approach to blending new and old as the way Bakery Square has developed. I’m sure many Pittsburghers will feel that the city can’t absorb another $100 million urban commercial development but those that feel that way are locked in the old paradigm.

The breakdown of space planned for the Iron City Brewing project
The breakdown of space planned for the Iron City Brewing project

Looking at Dennis Astorino’s rendering of the completed development you certainly get a sense of place like at Bakery Square or South Side Works, but the location makes me believe the project has a good chance. For one thing, Bakery Square seems to have two things really working well for it: (1) It’s becoming a relief valve for the overcrowded Oakland market. Several of its major tenants are extensions of CMU or Pitt research and East Liberty is surprisingly close; and (2) the retail component is serving the neighboring communities way more than the employees of Bakery Square. For example, Urban Active has 10,000+ members, even though the total employment at Bakery Sq. is around 1,000.

3-D rendering of the Iron City Brewing redevelopment. Rendering by DLA+ Architecture.
3-D rendering of the Iron City Brewing redevelopment from the viewpoint of Polish Hill. Rendering by DLA+ Architecture.

Iron City Brewing’s location is almost equidistant between the Strip District, Oakland and the booming part of Lawrenceville. It’s also just a few blocks from the revitalized Bloomfield main drag. Oh, and there’s a new hospital just up the hill. Given the growth and redevelopment of Lawrenceville, relatively little has been added in the way of lifestyle amenities.

More commercial and lifestyle development will be successful in the Lawrenceville/Bloomfield sub-market. If the Cargnoni’s have the financial strength and will to aggressively go ahead (and there’s nothing to suggest otherwise), I like the chances for the Iron City project.

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