New Restaurants, Breweries Make Pittsburgh Culinary Destination
Pittsburgh was recently ranked among the “Top 100 Best Places to Live in 2018” by Livability.com, citing the region’s strong university presence, burgeoning craft beer industry and successful professional sports franchises as important factors. Home to more than 15 breweries and a variety of new restaurants garnering national critical acclaim, Pittsburgh has also added foodie town to its list of accolades.
A mix of local ownership groups and national franchisees has been actively pursuing expansion opportunities and new concepts in the region. Among the most active are AMPD Group, a partnership that includes Local Bar + Kitchen, Steel Cactus and Social House 7, which has six new restaurants in the works in the coming months both in Pittsburgh and outside the region in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
The owners behind a local gastropub, The Yard, are introducing a new concept call Stout Pub & Kitchen in the Airport Corridor submarket. This new concept will focus on a variety of cured and smoked meats coupled with local beers and spirits. The fifth location of The Yard, which specializes in craft beers and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, is under construction in the adjacent space.
Full Menu of Food Options
While full-service dining continues to flourish in Pittsburgh’s suburban markets, fast-casual concepts are picking up speed within the central business district. Landlords are opting to ditch long-established chains in favor of new concepts and food halls that enhance the overall amenity package for prospective tenants.
Shorenstein Properties, which added One Oxford Centre to its portfolio in 2016, opened The Oxford Market and Bar in the former food court area in early 2018. The market features rotating food themes, a full salad bar and snack items obtained via kiosks where interactive menus guide visitors through the process of placing and paying for orders.
Pittsburgh’s total retail market has seen little fluctuation over the past several quarters, posting vacancy rates ranging between 2 and 3 percent over the past two years.
Economic development groups, in collaboration with landlords and local government officials, are pushing to bring a diverse selection of new retail and entertainment venues to the greater downtown area, including a movie theater, arcade and bowling alley. Meanwhile, owners and investors in the suburbs are seeking new users for mature big box stores vacated during the onslaught of bankruptcies and inventory reductions in recent months.
In Beaver County, the Beaver Valley Mall has backfilled former Macy’s and Sears stores with a U-Haul showroom and self-storage facility. To the east of Pittsburgh, Les and Jonah Sandler are bringing their Scene75 concept to an old Kmart. Upon completion, the 90,000-square-foot facility will house an arcade, bar and other activities designed for family entertainment. The first location of its kind in Pennsylvania, Scene75 is expected to bring 150 jobs and a $10 million investment to the market.
Mixed-Use Is Hot
Development and new construction in the region have largely focused on mixed-use projects anchored by big box or major grocery stores. In the South Pittsburgh market, Sienna @ Saint Clair opened in late 2017 and is anchored by a Whole Foods Market. The complex offers a variety of restaurants, shops, salons and professional service offices situated adjacent to new multifamily units.
North of Pittsburgh, the redevelopment and rebranding of the 500,000-square-foot Northway Mall has welcomed the area’s first Nordstrom Rack and Container Store, as well as Saks Off 5th, Bassett and J. Crew Mercantile.
The project, called The Block at Northway, is nestled among several multifamily complexes along McKnight Road, one of Pittsburgh’s most highly traveled roadways.
All in all, Pittsburgh’s retail market is reinventing itself in a number of creative ways. It’s both an innovative and exciting time to be working in this commercial real estate space.