What happened to the plans for a “blue lagoon” on the north side of Pittsburgh? | News | Pittsburgh


Click to enlarge

Image: Courtesy of Millcraft

Renderings of the 2018 Lagoon Proposal, which were not included in the most recent Millcraft development plans for the Chateau neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Last week, Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority approved a large development in the Chateau section of the city’s north side that would turn six industrial property acres into a mixed-use plaza that requires a mix of market-priced housing and affordable, commercial space, a marina, and even a Ferris wheel.

This great development is being managed by Millcraft and it has garnered a lot of attention. It has in fact been the case for years, when it arguably made more noise, as the development company ditched plans for the Esplanade project to include a large blue lagoon with a beach in the summer and ice skating with it. thermal baths in the winter.

However, the plans recently approved by the URA made no mention of a lagoon. And while the rendered drawings of what is likely to happen to Chateau seem transformational for the north side, the drawings did not show any “breathtaking blue lagoon,” as had been described by local media in the past.

So what happened to the lagoon?

Millcraft spokeswoman Molly Onufer said in a statement that plans had changed to “redesign the area into an inclusive lodge and green space to connect the site to the riverside.” She wrote that this decision was largely related to the land and size requirements of the development, and some problems with obtaining permission from a private railway, which still retains some rights to this section of the Trois Rivières heritage trail.

“The railway retains certain rights to the Trois Rivières heritage trail that crosses our property and we have not been able to obtain permission to move the land rights or build anything permanent there,” said writes Onufer. “The rest of the space could not accommodate the minimum size required for the Crystal Lagoon, so our enhanced plan includes a central destination that will be at the heart of the Esplanade project.”

Click to enlarge Rendering of the green space plan of the Millcraft pavilion as part of his Esplanade pour Chateau development project.  The proposal still includes plans for a Ferris wheel - IMAGE: COURTESY OF MILLCRAFT

Image: Courtesy of Millcraft

Rendering of the green space plan of the Millcraft pavilion as part of his Esplanade pour Chateau development project. The proposal still includes plans for a Ferris wheel

Private railways retain many land use and right-of-way rights along many of Allegheny County’s corridors, especially along rivers. The city owns the Trois Rivières heritage trail and the section that crosses Chateau to the north. However, a map from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation indicates that this section of the trail includes a rail right-of-way. Onufer says CSX was the railroad that operated along the trail before the rails were part of a Rails to Trails program.

Obtaining authorization from private rail companies for development is not always easy. A proposed trail from Millvale to Apsinwall has experienced delays due to negotiations between municipalities and the railway. Railways may be wary of development liability issues near or along their rights-of-way.

Click to enlarge Rendering of the green space plan of the Millcraft pavilion as part of its Esplanade pour Chateau development project - IMAGE: COURTESY OF MILLCRAFT

Image: courtesy of Millcraft

Rendering of the green space plan of the Millcraft pavilion as part of its Esplanade pour Chateau development project

It is also not uncommon for large developments to alter their plans, even at an advanced stage. And Pittsburgh, like many cities, is full of ambitious proposals that just don’t materialize. Over the past decades, many large projects that have not been completed include: the SkyBus mass transit system, the MagLev high-speed train, a stadium built on a massive bridge over rivers and, more recently , the hyperloop.

But even without the lagoon, Millcraft says the Esplanade will still offer a large, welcoming public space called “The Pavilion,” which will feature opening windows and a roof structure that will allow for convertible indoor and outdoor space. The lagoon plan is out, but Onufer notes that the updated plan is expected to have more amenities than previously offered, including a “four-season rooftop pool”. She says this will include a climbing wall, public art, a food store for traders, a brewery, an indoor / outdoor public park, an event venue for food and drink, sustainable features like solar panels on the roof and facade.

“It will serve as a bridge between the family side of the site, retail, riverside and the upgraded public trail with even more amenities than our previous plan,” Onufer wrote. “The new plan includes something for everyone anytime of the year (and all kinds of weather in Pittsburgh).”



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