Constructing Lifestyles
    Proposed Building Allegheny riverfront

    Proposed Building: Allegheny riverfront

    In the metropolitan landscape we tend to think of “development” as occurring one building at a time. That idea is being stretched by Oxford Development as they construct a complete, integrated community in the Strip District and, with it, lifestyles to reflect evolving urban tastes.

    Bounded by 25th and 29th streets and Smallman Street and the Allegheny River, Oxford’s neighborhood-within-the-neighborhood embraces residential, commercial, retail, transportation, and leisure facilities such that you might live and work there and rarely leave the grounds.

    Better still, you probably could ditch the trouble and expense of a car and get around to most activities by public means—and most especially your own two legs.

    Named 3 Crossings, the development is a comprehensive mix of latest-tech new construction coupled with reconfigured and repurposed historical old structures. It welcomes to the Strip District residents, businesses, and hybrid enterprises that traditionally might have sought suburban locations.

    75 Hopper Place Railroad Street and Hopper Place

    75 Hopper Place: Railroad Street and Hopper Place

    In the works for five years, 3 Crossings is planned to roll out for three more years, concluding major construction in 2023. Oxford is staging the development in two phases, with Phase 1 nearly complete and Phase 2 now underway.

    These include 18 individual structures embracing, all told, one million square feet of commercial space—office and retail—as well as 600 apartments and more than 2,200 parking spaces, plus bicycle and kayak storage.

    Bicycles and kayaks might be major considerations for those who would choose to live there, as the Allegheny Waterfront Trail abuts the Oxford properties and a watercraft put-in is located at nearby 23rd Street.

    Opportunities abound at 3 Crossings, as commercial tenants may chose traditional office space or custom spaces with high ceilings and other built-in features suitable for configuration to high-tech activities like laboratories, assembly, and testing. Retail enterprises, including food services, can select ground-floor space in several of the buildings.

    On the residential side, one completed complex called The Yards offers 300 pet-welcome apartments in studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom configurations ranging in size from 474 to 1,200 square feet. Interior fittings include nine-foot ceilings, walk-in closets, stone countertops, and engineered wood flooring. Juliet balconies are available on several units. The Yards also includes a one-acre common green space as well as landscaped rooftop gardens.

    The Stacks Plaza: Smallman and 28th streets

    The Stacks Plaza: Smallman and 28th streets

    Looking ahead, the residential offerings will be boosted by another 300 similar units as two new structures, tentatively called Residential A and Residential B, currently are under construction and slated to debut in 2022.

    Names are important in the Oxford Strip District development, which properly is called a “campus,” with an imaginative variety of sizes and shapes of buildings intermixed with recreational features and open spaces. There are, for instance, The Yards, The Stacks, Hopper Place, Riverfront West, and Riverfront East among the place names. All of these appeal to the historic industrial, rail, and river-barge character of the site.

    Currently, parts of the Strip District are experiencing a congested, tangled construction situation, owing especially to the mammoth Terminal Building redevelopment of an old structure that is a third of a mile long, along Smallman Street. Oxford’s 3 Crossings development, a few blocks east, is by contrast more buttoned-up and orderly.

    One unique feature is a building called The Hub, described by Oxford as “a 590-space multimodal transportation facility that connects Downtown, the Strip District, and Lawrenceville and provides space for cars, bicycles, and kayaks. The facility has over 100 bicycle parking spaces and a bike-repair station to help meet the
    demands of alternative transit in this dense urban area.”

    One unusual feature at 3 Crossings is described by Oxford this way: “The Euro Plaza, or woonerf, transforms from guest parking to a weekend destination for gatherings. A woonerf (Dutch for ‘living street’) is a concept created in the Netherlands and designed primarily with the interests of pedestrians and cyclists in mind and as a social space where people can meet safely. This Complete Streets technique includes shared outdoor space, traffic calming, and low speed limits, with priority given to all modes of transportation including automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrians. Motorized traffic in a woonerf is restricted to walking pace. The Euro Plaza will be built at the same grade as the sidewalk, without curbs. Through traffic is directed using a series of lighted bollards.”

    The Yards residential complex is billed by Oxford as having “the coolest backyard in the city—an acre of green space along the Allegheny River, complete with swimming pool, hot tub, fire pit, game areas, and access to the riverfront trail network.”

    Implicit in the 3 Crossings project is a recognition that the sometimes-coastal lifestyles and sensibilities of a contemporary workforce must be consulted, especially for workers often recruited from distant civic and academic settings—hence, Oxford’s emphasis on solar and LEED efficiency technologies, bicycle and kayak support, and non-traditional gustatory options.

    Yet throughout, the development thematically pays homage to the Strip District’s historic legacy of river, rail, and trucking industries that essentially fed Pittsburgh as it grew to world prominence in the post-Civil War era. What used to be there, and now is being built upon, includes former heavy industrial uses like railway switchyards, a steel mill foundry, a box factory, trucking terminals, and warehousing.


    William McCloskey is a local writer and editor. Contact him at
    Renderings provided by Oxford Development