Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

STRIP DISTRICT (KDKA) — A half decade of debate over the Strip District produce terminal has ended.

Instead of empty loading docks and warehouse space, the terminal is expected to come to life with people working, shopping and eating.

Smallman Street in the Strip District is about to undergo a $50 million makeover. Chicago developer Dan McCaffery plans on turning the aging and mostly empty produce terminal into a mix of offices, retail space, eateries and a street scape.

“It’s gonna be great for the footprint of Smallman Street in the Strip. It’s exciting,” Bill Fuller, president of Big Burrito Restaurants, said.

Fuller’s company owns several Pittsburgh-area restaurants, including two on Smallman. Eleven is on one end, and Kaya is right across the street from the terminal. Fuller welcomes the new neighbor.

“That area of the Strip, it’s a beautiful old building, but it’s been really not used for so long. That area could use some sprucing up, some enlivening,” Fuller said.

Plans also call for two cut-throughs, or walkways, right through the terminal building. You’ll be able to walk down 17th Street and go all the way to the riverfront.

This new development will expand the Strip to include the riverfront.

Many of the established businesses on Penn Avenue have worried how the new will affect the old in the Strip.

Jim Coen owns three sports merchandise stores on Penn.

“You know what? I’m excited,” he said. “The nice thing about the Strip District is when you come here, you talk to the owner every day. That’s a big, you know, that’s a big plus. You don’t find that in too many areas.”

Coen is optimistic about the project, especially since 40,000 square feet of the terminal will include locally owned businesses.

Additionally, across the street from the terminal, McCaffery plans to invest another $50 million into an office/retail building at 1600 Smallman Street.

Construction is expected to begin in March.