Tribune-Review: Pittsburgh’s Strip District attracts ‘melting pot’ of new residents

Rob Brandegee picked up and moved to Pittsburgh’s Strip District to enjoy its convenience and bustling city living atmosphere.

For the growing population of Strip District residents like him, it’s not uncommon to take a walk and run into friends and acquaintances.

“It’s very sociable, and it really has a neighborhood vibe,” said Brandegee.

Brandegee relocated from Highland Park to the Strip in 2021. Part of the appeal was how easy it is to reach South Side-based Little Earth Productions, the company he co-founded that manufactures licensed apparel and accessories, like the Terrible Towel, for professional and college teams. He loves the mix of Strip District residents ranging from young professionals to middle-aged and older.

On Smallman, the iconic Produce Terminal – a string of connected warehouses that opened up a portion of the docks to independent retailers, bakers and craftspeople – has been transformed into The Terminal, a bright, glossy shopping center. Vibrantly painted steps lead to businesses like Aslin Beer Company, Mayweather Boxing & Fitness and Posman’s Books, just a few blocks from long-time fixtures like Salem’s Market & Grill, Robert Wholey & Co. Fish Market and Pennsylvania Macaroni Co.

Several food and entertainment spots within the Terminal are expected to open this spring and summer, including the music venue City Winery, Novo Asian Food Hall, and Puttshack, as well as office space for the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission and the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Mohamed Yassin likes to visit the Strip District once or twice a week. For the doctor specializing in infectious diseases at nearby UPMC Mercy in Uptown, dropping by the neighborhood is easy.

“I think it’s the heart of Pittsburgh,” the Fox Chapel resident said. “Even just walking around, it makes you feel like part of Pittsburgh. My wife and I will go to Pennsylvania Macaroni Co. to get olives and cheeses. We will stop by the bakery and get some nice bread. Then we take the car up to Mount Washington to see the view. So this place really means a lot to me.”

Dan Adamski, senior managing director of JLL Pittsburgh, noted that commercial construction “is almost completely halted.”

Adamski said the Strip District has a “wow factor” that attracts highly sought-after talent who can live, bike and walk and visit new restaurants and brew pubs.

“That’s what companies in the post-covid world are seeking,” Adamski said. “If you have an office, it can’t be the old, beige cube farm. It’s a confluence of a bunch of attractive factors that, if you’re a company looking for a space, you look at the Strip District.”

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