Mill 19, the largest remaining building on Hazelwood’s 178-acre Almono site, has its first official tenant: Carnegie Mellon University’s Advanced Robotics Manufacturing (ARM) Institute. This marks the first occupant set to lease space within the former coke works plant being rehabilitated by the Regional Industrial Development Corporation of Southwestern PA (RIDC), a non-profit developer which originally managed the Almono project.
Besides robotics, ARM will also host a variety of light manufacturing and 3-D printing capabilities within the first of three separate three-story buildings to be constructed inside the 180,000-square foot structure. RIDC plans to strip the Mill of its original roof and siding to leave only its skeleton in-tact, and replace parts of the roof with solar panels to allow CMU’s building to operate with zero net energy consumption.
Governor Tom Wolf recently toured the site, and sees the Mill 19 project as symbolic of the region’s evolution: “From the commonwealth’s point of view, it’s a way to renovate, rehabilitate an area that’s been unutilized for the last ‘how-many’ years. Aesthetically, think of what it means for the appearances in this area, but then it also reconnects the area of Hazelwood. I think what they’re trying to do here is an audacious thing: to try to re-establish that connection in a way that pays tribute to Pittsburgh’s current incarnation as a high-tech capital.”
RIDC plans to attract other major tech and research firms to anchor the remaining two buildings planned for the Mill, with ideal tenants striking a balance of economic opportunity, local workforce provision, and eco-friendly practices.
Regardless of who ultimately lands in the Mill, RIDC’s president, Don Smith, says that the site is bound by land covenants to maintain its public accessibility, with community space, walkways, gardens, and other recreational amenities already factored into designs. While restaurants may arise as future tenants, Smith stresses that RIDC “doesn’t want to take away from the Hazelwood business district,” and hopes that Second Avenue “serves as a lot of the restaurants and service activities.”
The project’s development is scheduled to occur in three phases, with the plans to start the first phase of construction by the spring of 2019.