Brand Ambassador
    Pamela Austin

    Pamela Austin

    A year ago, Pamela Austin was immersed in her work with several of the Strip District’s major redevelopment projects. In 2020, she’s got new marching orders as she made a bold change after more than 18 years with McCaffery Interests, where she last worked as Senior Project Manager of Development on McCaffery projects, including the Strip District Terminal and 1600 Smallman.

    Austin made a major career move to serve as Brand Ambassador for Burns Scalo Real Estate in July 2020—about four months into the COVID-19 public health crisis. To navigate her new duties, the longtime Strip resident even added a car to her household to manage a short commute to her new office in Green Tree. While she loves life in the Strip, she embraces the changes, include walking to a different project site in her own neighborhood—The Vision on Fifteenth for Burns Scalo Real Estate (BSRE).

    Innately curious, Austin says she was ready to tackle different challenges. “I am thrilled to be able to work on the 260,000 square feet of The Vision on Fifteenth,” says Austin, “as well as the Riviera and our new pursuits.”

    The Illinois native earned both BS and MS degrees at the University of Illinois. She more recently studied interior design at Harrington College of Design. In addition, she spent many years as a lab and field researcher with international travel assignments for the storied Field Museum of Chicago.

    Austin’s new role encourages application of her fascinatingly diverse experience to the creation of leading-edge living and work environments.

    “I was attracted to Burns Scalo Real Estate to be a part of a local team,” says Austin. “Jim Scalo has a great vision for his company and invests heavily in his people. He runs a really happy organization. I felt we were complementary, as the bulk of BSRE’s real estate is suburban office while I have been almost exclusively urban mixed-use.” As for Scalo, he affirms: “We are very excited to have Pamela join BSRE. We are very impressed with her mindset and experience.”

    Austin relishes the challenges. “We get to learn from each other,” says Austin of her collaboration within her company. “Cross- pollination is a really healthy thing. BSRE’s latest undertaking is right here in the Strip District. I work with our development team on design and art programming, our marketing department on outreach in the community, and our brokerage team to locate the best tenants.

    “I get to draw upon the experience I gained working on the Produce Terminal and 1600 Smallman Street next door and the roots I have planted here in the neighborhood.”

    Pamela Austin

    Her multi-faceted expertise informs her approach to complex projects that intersect in urban and suburban neighborhoods.

    “I have definitely taken the ‘scenic road’ to this point in my career, with lots of interesting stops along the way,” says Austin. “Having broader, more diverse experience has definitely shaped my perspective and mixes well with teammates who have a more specialized focus.”

    Credentialed as a LEED Advanced Professional, Austin regards her biology training is an asset “when it comes to dealing with environmental reports that we undertake in our due diligence, looking at how to incorporate sustainable elements such as solar panels into projects, and just being evidence-based and analytical in my thinking.

    “While Jim Scalo relies more heavily on his instincts from his experience, I tend to get to a similar conclusion based upon data and research,” Austin observes. “And sadly, now with the pandemic, understanding how health and technology are shaping project design to meet tenants’ needs is another intersection with my biology background. The reason I initially chose biology was my love of nature. I definitely try to find ways to bring that to the built environment, whether it is a green wall, outdoor plazas, or the hydroponic tower garden on my balcony!”

    Austin’s travel adventures include an unforgettable trip to Bhutan, “a tiny mountainous Buddhist kingdom wedged between two superpowers of China and India. It was definitely the most exotic country I have experienced. The king has three wives—all sisters—but jokes about only having one mother-in-law!

    “All in the administration were educated in the U.S. and England,” she says. “Instead of GDP, they measure GNH-Gross National Happiness.” Their “not-for-the-faint-of-heart” geography requires roadways “perched on the sides of the Himalayas with precipitous drops. The road curves every several seconds.”

    Austin would not recommend the setting for people who might be more prone to motion sickness or high elevations. Likewise, she regards her experience as “character building”; she was the only woman in a camp of about 30 people, where she slept in a tent, and was a bit underequipped for the high altitudes.

    Pamela Austin

    When U.S. residents can travel again, Austin says she hopes to reschedule a planned trip to Europe this autumn. She looks forward to stays in Austria and Switzerland on either side of a commemorative hike in the tiny country of Lichtenstein.

    “I like the idea of physical activity mixed with pretty scenery and good food! I had to cancel two trips—one due to civil unrest in Nicaragua, and the other due to not being able to renew my passport and Europe not taking Americans due to COVID-19. The latter was an adventure I planned after reading about Lichtenstein celebrating its anniversary by creating a walking trail that passed through every municipality.”

    A Strip District resident since moving here from Chicago a bit over six years ago, Austin first lived at the Cork Factory. Her boyfriend, Mike, was one of its first residents. Appreciative of the city and sunset views, they purchased a condo two blocks away on Smallman.

    “We absolutely love it,” Austin affirms. “We enjoy the best of all worlds with a quiet, private courtyard and two outdoor spaces that are part of our unit but all in an urban setting.” She lists favorite Strip things as the diverse food purveyors offering a world of possibilities for the cooking she enjoys at home. “We have great distillers and breweries and cute boutiques to buy unique gifts,” Austin says, “and, of course, we enjoy easy accessibility to Downtown and beyond, including a flat terrain for biking!”

    During the earlier weeks of universal quarantine, Austin says working from home with her “15-year-old sibling cats Ozzie and Layla” was punctuated by enjoyable dog-walking breaks with Gunther, “a beautiful German wire-haired pointer with a huge personality.”

    “We live close to the dog park that Chuck Hammel maintains for the neighborhood and the riverfront trail, but Gunther always wanted to head each day to Penn Avenue to La Prima, PNC, and Enrico’s Biscotti because that is his normal Monday routine with Mike.” Gunther relishes his reward of a peanut butter doggie biscotti “before heading to the coffee shop where the older Italian gentlemen fawn over him. He gets so many smiles and brings so much joy around the neighborhood.”

    Until then, she’ll be tending to some very exciting changes in her adopted hometown—and you might spot Pamela and Mike walking Gunther in the Strip.

    Yvonne Hudson, a Pittsburgh writer and editor, grew up in Indiana, PA, and is an alumna of Point Park University and University of Pittsburgh. When she’s not writing about regional nonprofits and businesses, she appears in her solo show Mrs Shakespeare. Her website is newplace.us

    Signup for updates and event alerts