Last week, the Power of 32 Site Development Fund announced a $9.6 million loan to jumpstart construction on Riverfront 47, a 30-acre brownfield redevelopment located on the Allegheny River in Sharpsburg.
While the project is still in its earliest phases, the vision for Riverfront 47 is a mixed-use commercial and residential development that will bring in new residents and boost the local economy. The Downtown-based real estate firm The Mosites Company is in charge of development.
“It’s exciting to see the development of this former private industrial site take such an important step forward in site preparation,” says Brittany Reno, executive director of the Sharpsburg Neighborhood Organization. “I’m eager to collaborate with the community and the development team to ensure that the park and trail meaningfully reconnect all of our residents to their riverfront and that the development includes housing, businesses and other amenities that are affordable and accessible to all Sharpsburgers.”
For some development experts, the announcement was yet more evidence that the smaller boroughs on the Allegheny like Millvale, Etna and Sharpsburg are poised to absorb business and population growth from the rapidly developing neighborhoods just across the bridge.
“There’s absolutely a ton of potential,” says Lance Chimka, director of economic development for Allegheny County. “Especially as some of the real estate market gets saturated in the Strip and Lawrenceville, the path of least resistance is over the river.”
There have been notable additions to the local small-business community in the last several years, such as Iron Born Pizza and the Grist House Craft Brewery in Millvale. And this week, 412 Food Rescue announced the opening of Millvale Kitchen, which will serve as a hub for volunteer and community engagement, and a place to store and handle their influx of perishable foods.
Meanwhile, Sharpsburg is home to the popular Dancing Gnome and Hitchhiker breweries, not to mention the award-winning advertising firm Deeplocal. Etna recently welcomed fashion designer Kiya Tomlin.
“You’ve got fantastic communities, solid housing stock, interesting retail spaces, and then you also have the culture amenities like Mr. Smalls, trail and river access, a lot of cool amenities,” says Chimka, whose office assisting in the planning for Riverfront 47.
And yet here’s what’s really interesting: While these new developments, large and small, have been cheered by local stakeholders, a growing network of community groups along the river is also working to make sure the new prosperity is evenly shared. Concerns about the possibility of gentrification or excessively rapid growth are getting attention.
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