Neighborhood on the Rise: Uptown
Now, where exactly is Uptown?
If you are an Uptown resident, that is the equivalent of the Downtown resident ‘where do you grocery shop?’ or a Lawrenceviller ‘what’s your favorite spot on Butler?’ But it underscores something more for Uptown residents. The fact that most people have little interaction with Uptown outside of a yearly trek to PPG Paints Arena. And to be fair, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to be over there currently…unless you live there. But that’s exactly what a growing number of artists, young professionals and others are doing poised to add a punch to a sleepy neighborhood between bustling Downtown and Oakland.
Ok, but seriously, where is it? Basically, think of a block or two surrounding either side of Fifth & Forbes Ave between Downtown and Oakland and that is Uptown’s loose framework.
Who’s living there now? And who’s moving there next? The neighborhood is one of the more diverse spots in the city with artists like James Simon and Jeremy Raymer living side by side with Duquesne undergrads and little grandma’s sitting on their porches who have lived there for 30+ years. And who’s joining them? Renters looking for more bang for their buck at new properties like Flats on Fifth, Fifth Ave School Lofts and renovated row homes sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. They are people that still want to be able to walk to their Downtown office or hop a quick bus to Oakland. Increasingly, you’ll find a slug of first time home owners that have been priced out of Lawrenceville/Bloomfield who are looking to snag a deal (you can still get a house for under $75k!) in need of some sweat equity.
What are the biggest perks? The proximity & transit. South Side is a five-minute drive as is Squirrel Hill. Downtown is a ten-minute walk to spots like Union Standard or the new Distrikt Hotel. Oakland is a straight shot on the bus which run every three to five minutes along the Fifth & Forbes corridors. Start-ups like Hack Pittsburgh, WebKite, No Wait (alumni) and others are part of a growing innovation economy thanks to Start Uptown. Also there are some hidden gems in Uptown. ZBest BBQ might just be that in a city that has upped its bbq game in the past few years. ANd the corner bodegas that have largely been wiped out of most neighborhoods anchor blocks throughout the neighborhood and perfect for any and all last minute needs from milk to Draino.
What are some needed improvements? A destination restaurant. While changes are afoot for infrastructure & green space (keep reading), Uptown needs to expand its culinary horizon from pizza joints (which are aplenty) to a Pusadee’s level destination dining experience. And with East End real estate sky rocketing and Downtown only continuing to grow…it’s only a matter of time. And while there is already a grocery in walking distance to many, a new Italian market will be opening its doors this fall adding a nice bump to the neighborhood.
What’s on the horizon for Uptown? BIG THINGS which is what has us so bullish on Uptown. The city’s first EcoInnovation District is planned set to spur sustainable growth for the neighborhood from housing to commercial space. Complimenting that plan is a new spine line for the proposed Bus Rapid Transit that will connect Downtown, Uptown, Oakland and 23 neighborhoods beyond with new express bus service more akin to the T with platforms and real-time monitors. Additionally, there are another 150+ apartments (a mix of affordable & market) planned for the next year as well as a MASSIVE new eye center rumored by UPMC on an existing parking lot adjacent to UPMC Mercy.
So if you are looking for a neighborhood on the rise, add Uptown to your short list.