By Lynn McMahon
Just west of the Landside terminal at Pittsburgh International Airport, 195 acres of land have sat undeveloped since the facility opened in 1992.
The opportunities for developing the site are seemingly endless, and on Sept. 21, the board of the Allegheny County Airport Authority took a step forward by authorizing the CEO to award a contract to the lowest responsible bidder for phase one site preparations that include sewage, roadways and other infrastructure.
“This site is going to be a beacon for the region,” said David Storer, ACAA’s manager of real estate development. “It’s the property closest to the terminal and highly visible. It’s the first thing visitors will see. They’ll see it from the air, and they’ll see it from the road.”
The board’s approval clears the way for contractors to prepare nearly 13 acres of the property, with land development construction companies submitting proposals under a competitive bidding process.
Once hired, the company will transform the land into two “pad-ready” sites.
“That means a developer will need only to erect the buildings,” Storer explained. Becoming pad-ready requires clearing the property of coal mining highwalls and putting the infrastructure in place – storm sewers, utilities and an access road. “The developer will not have to worry about grading, roads or utilities, and all permits will have been obtained,” he said.
What to build on the pads will be determined in the next stage. Possibilities include single-story research and development facilities, industrial flex space, multi-level office buildings as well as retail shops and restaurants.
The site, previously referred to as the World Trade Center site, could undergo a name change as the development moves forward.
“We want to name the development something that will attract any industry,” says Eric Sprys, Chief Commercial Officer at PIT.
The benefits of the future development extend far beyond PIT, he said. “This is good not just for Pittsburgh or Allegheny County; it’s good for the 10-county region that surrounds the airport.”
The first 13-acre parcel is projected to be ready for development by the end of 2019. Preparing the rest of the property will take as long as five to 10 years to develop, if not longer, Storer said.
A project of this size offers clear economic benefits. To date, five business parks have been developed on airport land, and 6,000 jobs created or retained within those five parks. It is estimated that when completed, the World Trade Center (all 195 acres), will create more than 2,100 full-time jobs.
In addition, the development will increase non-aeronautical revenue for the airport authority, which in turn can be used to attract new airlines and more direct flights.