Pitt proposes plans to bring grocery store, resident housing to Oakland


Jon Moss | Editor-in-Chief

Pitt announced plans Monday to redevelop its property at 3401 Boulevard of the Allies.

By Natalie Frank, News Editor

Pitt announced plans Monday to redevelop its property at 3401 Boulevard of the Allies. The University proposed bringing a grocery store and residential housing units to the property, which currently houses a Panera Bread and was formerly a Quality Inn and Suites. 

According to a press release, the University made this proposal based on community feedback during its Institutional Master Plan process. Residents and Oakland community members consistently named a grocery store and more resident housing as a top priority. 

“This project is truly catalytic,” Mary Beth McGrew, associate vice chancellor for planning, design and real estate, said. “It creates an exciting new corridor into Oakland and is the product of an authentic and ongoing partnership among the University of Pittsburgh, the city of Pittsburgh and our neighbors.”

According to the press release, the non-student residential units offer walk-to-work options for Pitt faculty and staff. Mayor Bill Peduto said the addition of housing close to work and a grocery store is important for the Oakland community.

“The addition of walk-to-work housing and a grocery store at this critical intersection is a win for the entire Oakland community,” Peduto said. “I appreciate the University’s partnership in bringing a needed grocery store back to the community and making an investment in workforce housing.”

The Oakland Planning and Development Corp. also announced Monday that it’s selling a property at 233-237 Atwood St. to Pitt. According to the announcement, as part of the sale negotiation, Pitt has committed to “promoting homeownership and creating opportunities for staff and faculty to live in Oakland neighborhoods, transferring a University-owned house to OPDC for inclusion in the Oakland Community Land Trust, which guarantees the property will remain owner-occupied in perpetuity, dedicating a meeting space within a Pitt-property in central Oakland that community groups can use, free of charge and providing retail space in Sennott Square — slated for use by a local entrepreneur — to OPDC rent-free for 10 years.”

The announcement also stated that the sales agreement between OPDC and Pitt “memorializes” Pitt’s proposal to redevelop the Boulevard of the Allies site to include a grocery store and residential units.

“Oakland residents have been advocating for many years for a community-serving grocery store,” Jake Oresick, president of OPDC’s Board, said. “Pitt’s commitment to building the grocery store and supporting homeownership will help to stabilize the neighborhood, and the new endowment ensures OPDC will serve the neighborhood for decades to come.”

According to Pitt’s press release, Walnut Capital will redevelop the Boulevard of the Allies site for Pitt. Walnut Capital is also partnering with the University for the redevelopment of the rowhouses, bounded by Bates Street, Boulevard of the Allies and Zulema Street. What will take the place of the Bates rowhouses is currently unknown.  

“The University of Pittsburgh is really stepping up as a partner in the neighborhood,” City Council member Bruce Kraus said. “The site is a critical connection between central Oakland, South Oakland and Oakcliffe, and our neighbors have wanted non-student housing and a grocery store — along with removing the blighted townhouses on Bates — for a long time, and Pitt is getting it done. This is a huge step for Oakland.”