PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Not exactly in unison but united nonetheless, developers and community leaders broke ground on a $120 million development on what was once the Reizenstein School on Penn Avenue in East Liberty.
“The first building we’re building offers 218,000 square feet of space, and Google has already signed a lease to occupy one third of it,” observed Gregg Perelman of Walnut Capital.
Named Bakery Square 2.0, across the street from Walnut Capital’s highly-successful Bakery Square, it builds on that innovative office space with hip shopping and residential living where the smells of Nabisco’s baking used to waft through the air.
“So much media attention about a new cracker plant in Beaver County,” Mayor Bill Peduto joked, “but there’s going to be 800 engineers around an old cracker plant in East Liberty, and a whole new economy being built around it.”
Elected officials hailed the transformation of East Liberty.
“This whole corridor was at times like a war zone,” recalled U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, a Forest Hills Democrat, “and you just thought what is ever going to happen? And people avoided saying the word East Liberty.”
But that is changing.
“We’re one of only three regions in the country in which 20 percent of our young workforce has a post-graduate degree. We have a brainy city, a smart, industrial, hardworking city which is a model of what people can do around this country,” noted Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
The developers predict the project will create 3,500 jobs with 350 apartments for rent and 52 townhouses for sale and continued growth for this part of East Liberty.
“People around the country are looking to Pittsburgh as an example, looking to Pittsburgh for ideas, looking to Pittsburgh for answers,” said Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley.