RIDC took ownership of Heppenstall Steel’s former 14-acre industrial site in 2002 with the vision of creating an urban technology park. Without being able to predict the future explosion of Lawrenceville’s popularity, RIDC made a timely investment in the riverfront tract before the neighborhood was cool. Lawrenceville (and neighboring East Liberty) was ranked #1 trendiest neighborhood in America by Money Magazine.
A former Atlantic & Pacific Company storehouse built on the site in 1930 became a chocolate factory for Geoffrey Boehm in the 1990s (now Edward Marc/the Milk Shake Factory), and has been completely renovated into a multi-tenant, office/high-tech manufacturing facility. Named the Chocolate Factory, as a hat tip to its past, the 70,000 square-foot building is now home to some of Pittsburgh’s fastest-growing technology firms, including Setex Technologies (formerly nanoGriptech), SeqCenter (formerly Microbial Genome Sequencing Center) and Predictive Oncology Inc.
RIDC’s new Tech Forge, a 67,000 square foot high-tech and high efficiency flex building is home to Caterpillar’s Pittsburgh Automation Center, Evoqua and Innovation Works’ Robotics Factory and AlphaLab accelerator programs.
The former Heppenstall building, a 50,000 square-foot heavy industrial high-bay facility, was built out for Carnegie Robotics, a spin-off from the nearby National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC). This industrial renovation project was recognized in 2017 by NAIOP as one of the top reuse projects in North America.