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'A Very Lively Social Space': Strip District's Produce Terminal Is Transforming

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Parking spaces gone, roads closed, detour signs.

Lately, life along Smallman Street "has been very problematic with all the detours," says Pittsburgh Councilwoman Deb Gross. "And thank goodness all of our shops are doing well in the Strip District."

This is a classic short term pain for long term gain. Mayor Bill Peduto says the transformation of the old Produce Terminal is inspiring.

"We're not tearing it down. We're going to polish her up. We're going to give her a brand new use. And this building will be the lifeblood of the regeneration and rejuvenation all along the Allegheny River," the mayor said.

"There are very few places that are more Pittsburgh than the terminal building. This place just is the very fabric of what we are."

Mayor Peduto has a vision of the future along Smallman including, "outdoor seating for dinner and ... drinks outside." The nightlife there, he says, will be "incredible."

The project is the architectural vision of Joe Antunovich. "Now we will bring back a collection of restaurants, a collection of craft stores, a collection of stores that are for the people," he says -- a focal point for the growing residential population in the Strip District.

WATCH: News Conference & Groundbreaking --

"The idea of being able to live, work, shop, and play without having to get into your car is very very pronounced," the architect adds, "and that's what we're trying to do here."

The project, which includes renovation and repurposing the warehouse across the street at 1600 Smallman, is being directed by McCaffery Inc. The developer has done several projects in the Strip. It's "being funded by union pensions funds," says Pam Austin, who works for McCaffery. "And it's all union labor on the jobs."

Austin says the Smallman Street side of the building will be transformed. "The building right now has an eight-foot dock. We're going to be extending it another four feet to allow for outdoor dining and retailing space," she explains.

And next to that on street level will be a sixteen-foot pedestrian space, before the parking spaces. Austin says the pedestrian area opens up a variety of possibilities, noting that "this is going to be a very lively social space."

WATCH: KDKA's John Shumway At The Groundbreaking

Gross says there will be, "bike lanes, more parking than before, and more room for people in the streets so it will be safer."

Austin says the transformation is coming quickly. In fact, McCaffery Inc. is expecting the opening of 40 or more tenants throughout next year. Some of those tenants have already signed letters of intent.

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