Pittsburgh, Pa., Project to Become Hub for Robotics, AI

(TNS) – Tishman Speyer has redeveloped part of the Bronx, Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and a steel mill in Beijing.

Now it will get its shot at an old coke plant in Hazelwood.

After more than a year of talks, the global real estate developer has reached an agreement with the Almono partnership to lead the effort to transform the former LTV Coke Works into a 21st century hub for robotics, life sciences and other cutting-edge industries.

As a master developer, Tishman will be responsible for delivering millions of square feet of mixed-use development over the next decade at the 178-acre site, known as Hazelwood Green.

It’s excited about the challenge, said Jeffrey Mandel, Tishman senior managing director

“We have a passion for finding new ways to repurpose post-industrial locations,” he said. “It’s a passion and a real opportunity.”

Almono – made up of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation – announced the agreement Friday.

The deal has been in the works for more than a year. The Post-Gazette reported in late 2020 that Tishman was considered a leading candidate to become a master developer.

In addition to the Almono agreement, Tishman has signed on to work with Carnegie Mellon University to help with design, construction and programming at the Robotics Innovation Center CMU is planning in Hazelwood Green’s Mill 19 district.

Tishman Speyer is coming aboard as master developer at a time Hazelwood Green is finally gaining some momentum with the Mill 19 redevelopment led by the Regional Industrial Development Corp., the Almono-led restoration of an old locomotive roundhouse and the proposed CMU venture.

Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, stressed that Tishman will be moving quickly to get started with a first phase centered on the Mill 19 district.

“It’s important to note that we are ready to go. We don’t anticipate a long lag before you see activity at the site,” he said. “I want to emphasize that this is happening.”

Mr. Reiman said the primary focus of the first phase of work for Tishman would be about 2 million square feet of land adjacent to Mill 19.

He envisions a redevelopment totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, one with an emphasis on robotics, artificial intelligence, life sciences and similar ventures in keeping with much of what has been developed there so far.

The goal, according to the hiring announcement, is to create a “global center for tomorrow’s economy.”

Tishman will also be responsible for creating new affordable and market-rate apartments, parks, open spaces, shops and restaurants to be run by small and local merchants and other amenities along with the infrastructure like roads and parking needed to support those activities.

Mr. Reiman and Mr. Mandel emphasized that one of the overarching goals of the first phase – and the overall development – is to interconnect whatever is built at the site with the rest of the Hazelwood neighborhood.

“We don’t want this to be an isolated research park,” Mr. Reiman said. “There has to be a sense of place here – a sense of place that connects the community.”

Part of that mission includes working with the community and institutions and companies attracted to development to provide workforce training and job opportunities, Mr. Mandel said.

Sonya Tilghman, executive director of the Hazelwood Initiative community group, could not be reached for comment.

In a statement in the hiring developer’s announcement, she said that “we look forward to collaborating with them on a Hazelwood Green that is fully integrated with the existing community and a model for how development can put people first.”

Before being hired as a master developer, Tishman had been doing some work for Almono as a consultant.

The partnership, Mr. Reiman said, was drawn to the developer by shared values, including environmental sustainability and a desire to connect what is built to the greater community in Hazelwood and beyond.

Hazelwood Green has the highest sustainability standards of any development in the region. Tishman also emphasizes sustainability in its literature.

There has been some speculation that the high standards could drive away developers. But Mr. Mandel doesn’t see that as an issue, saying more of its customers are seeking that type of sustainability.

“I think it’s where everyone needs to go. It’s where customers want to be and it’s consistent with our values” and those of the foundations, he said.

The Mill 19 district work will likely start off with the 150,000-square-foot Robotic Innovation Center featuring reconfigurable high bays, multiple testing facilities and flexible spaces.

It is being built on 8.3 acres of land at Hazelwood Green that CMU acquired options on in 2019. The center is being funded by part of a $ 150 million grant awarded to the university by the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

The land is located near Mill 19, which houses CMU’s Manufacturing Futures Initiative and the nonprofit Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute. The new Robotics Innovation Center is expected to open in 2024.

“With Tishman Speyer on board, I look forward to amplifying our impact on this ecosystem and advancing our collective vision for Hazelwood Green as a model for sustainable and inclusive economic development,” CMU President Farnam Jahanian said in a statement.

Another big project in the works at Hazelwood Green is BioForge, a cutting-edge biomanufacturing facility being developed by the University of Pittsburgh. It is being funded in part by a $ 100 million grant from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Pitt does not have an agreement with Tishman, although Chancellor Patrick Gallagher praised the developer’s “unparalleled expertise” in announcing its hiring.

While the initial emphasis will be on the Mill 19 district, Tishman will have control over the entire 178-acre site, which will likely be developed in phases, Mr. Reiman said.

No final terms of the agreements between Tishman and Almono or CMU were released.

Since its inception in 1978, Tishman has acquired, developed and operated 484 properties totaling 219 million square feet with a combined value of more than $ 121 billion.

It helped build the new Yankee stadium in the Bronx and owns New York City’s famous Rockefeller Center. Other assets include The Springs in Shanghai and TaunusTurm in Frankfurt, Germany.

Tishman is working with the San Francisco Giants baseball team on Mission Rock, a 28-acre mixed-use development on the Bay Area waterfront. It was also selected to develop Harvard University’s 14-acre Enterprise Research Campus in the Boston region.

Mr. Tishman Reiman said, is identified with some of the leading cities and cutting-edge developments in the world.

“We’re excited to be recognized in that same way,” he said.

© 2022 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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