Pittsburgh apartment building

Pittsburgh still has a reputation as a smoggy, manufacturing-based city but the city has quietly matured into an entrepreneurial hub for the Northeast with a low cost of living. Pittsburgh has been at or near the top of many recent lists, such as a best of travel destination for 2012 by National Geographic and 2009’s best sports city in the country by The Sporting News.

Unsurprisingly, the new business-friendly reputation spurred the real estate market, particularly in the conversion of historical buildings. One iconic addition to the city’s revitalization is the plan to convert the former Wholey’s Federal Cold Storage Building in the historic Strip District into apartments. Imagine how cool it would be to live in a building that used to be an old refrigerator!

final view Pittsburgh Apartment Building

The current owners—a property development firm out of a Pittsburgh suburb—are hoping to turn the building into 144 apartments, most of which would be two bedroom units.

The 330,000+ square foot building is iconic in the area as a part of the Robert Wholey Produce company. It’s also ominous at seven stories tall and almost a whole city block long. Two very busy city corridors run on two sides, making it a landmark for hundreds of thousands of drivers every day. Wholey moved operations for cold storage to an even larger building just north of Pittsburgh in 1980.

second view Pittsburgh apartment building

Since it was purchased in 2008, plans have gone back and forth–from office to condos to hotel to garage, but the most recent plan (as of last week) is an apartment complex. The development company plans to restructure the walls so the outer apartments have balconies. You can see it won’t be an easy task. The developers are also seeking to create an energy efficient building, aiming for a silver LEED rating. Included will be wind turbines at the top of the building which will power some of the exterior lighting.

The latest news is what to do with the iconic smiling fish logo on the building. The Pittsburgh Gazette writes, “A city with three rivers that fell in love with a giant rubber duck ought to be able to find a home for a fish.” A vote will determine where the fish will end up (within Pittsburgh’s city limits).