10 Things Pittsburgh Should Be Pumped for in 2016

With the end of the year in sight, there’s no denying that 2015 sure was good to Pittsburgh.

From being named America’s best town to an endless list of projects reshaping the city, it has been tough to keep up with all of the headlines and transformations. And 2016 shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, there’s a good chance that the upcoming year will outpace the progress and positive vibes created over the previous twelve months.

How could that be, you ask? See for yourself. Here are 10 things Pittsburgh can look forward to in 2016.

Food scene on the rise

morcilla
Photo: Adam Milliron

According to Zagat, Pittsburgh’s food scene won 2015. Well if they thought 2015 was solid, wait until they see what Pittsburgh’s culinary masterminds have planned for 2016. There are more new restaurants in the works. Keith Fuller of Root 174 in Regent Square has teamed up with Rick DeShantz, chef and partner in Meat & Potatoes, Butcher and the Rye, and Tako, with plans to open Pork & Beans. Recently, chef Derek Stevens announced he’ll be parting ways with Eleven to open his own restaurant Downtown. And the opening of Smallman Galley, a restaurant incubator in the Strip District that provides emerging chefs with a low-risk onramp to opening their own place, could be the launchpad for the next “best restaurant in Pittsburgh.”

Food trucks get the go-ahead

Food Truck Pittsburgh
For years, Pittsburgh’s food trucks have been banished from the city, relegated to random spots around town. But that’s all about to change. The city council recently approved new food truck-friendly laws that allow for extended parking in metered spots. That means less wandering for your favorite grub, and a sure thing to attract more mobile eaters to the city. The law is set to go into effect immediately, but we’re most excited about being surrounded by food trucks during the spring and summer months in the Steel City.

The Silicon Strip

Strip District Pittsburgh
If you’ve been to the Strip District lately, then you know the entire neighborhood is under construction. In the best way though! There’s everything from office spaces to luxury condos going in. And the arrival of tenants like Apple and Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center has given way to the Silicon Strip moniker. We’ll be watching to see if the name sticks. But in the meantime, the city’s historic produce terminal could become a combination living/office/retail space (with a focus on food), as to preserve this civic asset. Fingers crossed.

Riverfront developments

Riverfront Pittsburgh Development
Pittsburgh is known for its bridges and three rivers. But recently the riverfront parks, trails, and developments have been winning the day. USA Today named Pittsburgh to a list of America’s best riverfronts. And from the look of things, the city intends to earn that title. In fact, more than 20 riverfront projects are underway or in the queue at this moment. The 178-acre Almono site in Hazelwood, 168-acre Carrie Furnace site in the Mon Valley, multiple locations in the Strip District, and Riverfront 47, that extends through Aspinwall, O’Hara, and Sharpsburg, are set to further transform and connect parks, trails, and public spaces along Pittsburgh’s rivers.

BIG plans for the Lower Hill

Lower Hill Renovation Pittsburgh
Notice that’s BIG, as in the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group. Their master plan for redeveloping the sloping, 28-acre Lower Hill District site near Downtown includes residential units, offices, retail space, and hotels. At the same time, there’s extensive plans for parks and paths that create public spaces and provide accessibility across Pittsburgh’s unique topography.

The Hunt Armory Ice Center

Hunt Armory Pittsburgh
After preliminary votes, the Hunt Armory is set to become the Hunt Armory Ice Center. That’s right, the 90,000-square-foot armory that once housed the 28th Infantry of the Army National Guard and the 107th Field Infantry will receive an extreme makeover – ice rink edition. If all goes according to plan, the property will become the only indoor rink within city limits. The Ice Center would include one regulation hockey rink and two smaller skating rinks, along with spectator seating, party rooms, and a cafe area.

More excitement in the East End

East LIberty Pittsburgh
The Ace Hotel is up and running. So too is Whitfield, the restaurant within the Ace. Elements of East Side III, a multi­-phase project consisting of a transit center, retail, residential, and public spaces, have been completed and others will be coming online in 2016. As it does, Google takes over even more office space in Bakery Square. Soon thereafter, Restoration Hardware could open in East Liberty with Duolingo, the language-learning app, moving in upstairs. That news comes on the heels of a potential deal that would have Schoolhouse Electric & Supply, the lighting and housewares company based in Portland, Oregon, opening an east coast base in Pittsburgh. See that? All the cool kids really are moving here.

Downtown becomes a destination

Downtown Pittsburgh
In years past, people went downtown for work. Then they left. And living downtown simply wasn’t a thing. But now, thanks to a number of multi-million dollar initiatives, the future of downtown Pittsburgh looks more promising with each passing day. The Tower at PNC Plaza is the greenest skyscraper in the world. The Union Trust Building is trying to attract high-tech tenants. Part of the Macy’s building is becoming a hotel. Tower Two Sixty, the new 18-story high-rise on Forbes Avenue is nearing completion. And the Saks building is set to become a mixed-use retail and residential space with a garage. All that, plus plenty more restaurants planned for city add to the momentum heading into 2016.

Nova Place takes shape on the Northside

Nova Place Pittsburgh
One of the largest redevelopment projects in the country will see Allegheny Center transformed into Nova Place. More than $100 million of renovations will overhaul outdated offices and parking spaces to create an innovation center complete with upgraded offices, collaborative workspaces, and common areas. There will also be a fitness center, restaurants, and conference center. At $24 per square foot, the space is less expensive than the average price in Pittsburgh: $27.50. The price and location on the Northside are already attraction tenants, including startup investor Innovation Works, who has already claimed 9,000 square feet of their very own. Speaking of startups, Nova Place houses Alloy 26, which is being billed as the largest coworking space in Pittsburgh.

More to love about Lawrenceville

Butler Street Lawrenceville PIttsburgh
Formerly a downtrodden neighborhood, Lawrenceville’s stock continues to rise. Spots like the Vandal, Mid-Atlantic Mercantile, Toll Gate Revival, Espresso a Mano, Wild Card, Cure and many others are already making their mark on Lawrenceville. And now, there are a number of projects underway that make the neighborhood even more move-in ready. The McCleary School on Holmes Street will become a 25-unit condominium. The Foundry at 41st will add another 182 luxury apartments to a project that also includes the restoration of “Bay 4”- a steel structure and remanent of the mill building – into public corridor for farmers markets or vendors. At the same time, there’s talk of a development that spans the block of Butler Street between 39th to 40th Streets that would convert to as many as 650 apartments, plus additional retail space. Be on the lookout for much more to come.