You have the Flats and the Slopes in the Southside. Upper, Lower, and Middle (I guess) sections in Lawrenceville. And seemingly Downtown is primed to emerge from one neighborhood to its own niche areas. On a recent warm day, I strolled from river to river and really began to notice distinct Downtown areas emerging. Along the Allegheny you have the Cultural District bringing housing (and recently lots of it), restaurants, theaters, cafes, etc from Point State Park up through 10th Street. Market Square and the core of town seems to be taking off, dominated by arguably higher buildings centric to office/hotel/etc. The Lower Hill/Arena Area is poised to be something of its own work is underway. And then you have Firstside.
Firstside is an area that most wouldn't even know has a name. It's a narrow 2-block by 10 block span defined by the Blvd of the Allies and the Monongahela River. Unless your office or parking garage is over there, most don't venture to this end of town. But that's your loss. The area is one that feels more like a Boston or a Georgetown than Downtown Pittsburgh. Maybe it's the narrow streets or the architecture or both, but it is definitely a place that feels uniquely quaint compared to its Downtown brethren.
In recent years, development on this end of town can be attributed to two large stakeholders, Point Park University and PNC. PNC led the charge in the area years back with PNC Firstside. They brought a beautiful LEED certified building to the waterfront and complemented it with a beautiful meandering garden anchoring the east end of Firstside.
Not to be outdone, Point Park University has double-downed on there location and sunk millions into a bold new Academic Village Initiative ($280M upon completion). The most visible change on campus is their beautiful new park at the corner of the Blvd of the Allies and Wood St, but thats just the tip of the iceberg. Upon completion, the project is poised to dramatically change the vibe across PPU's campus bringing more student housing and increased vibrancy up and down FirstSide.
As a result, early adopters are jumping on board. Last week development plans were released for a 35-unit apartment building in the Graphic Arts building. There is residential conversation underway bringing what looks like a stellar condo building (or one insane unit) with rooftop decks to the market, see pictures below. And there has been several rumors of more projects aimed at housing for some of the larger buildings in the area. Its aforementioned charm and warm streets (not to mention convenient location) do lend themselves well to residential, so it seems only a matter of time til more developers jump on this area. And if the adage retail follows rooftops is true, the potential for niche neighborhood retailers like a coffeeshop, drycleaners, or maybe a 24-diner could be next, bringing more life to Firstside.
Time will tell if it all catches on but after my little stroll I definitely will keep my eye on the happenings on that end of town.