- Developer Millcraft Investments provided more information last week about the Esplanade, its planned $700 million, 15-acre mixed-use development on the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- In an update for the board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Millcraft Chief Financial Officer Brian Walker, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times, said the 1.8 million-square-foot project would feature a Ferris wheel and a 2.5-acre man-made lake by Chile-based Crystal Lagoons. The lagoon will be surrounded by four towers along with a full-service hotel, 209-unit condo building, 330-unit apartment building and a 300,000-square-foot office building. Each building will stand 200 feet tall. The development will also include 150,000 square feet of retail, a 90,000-square-foot “first-day experiential adventure center” as well as a public pier and marina. The apartment building will also include affordable units.
- The project site includes two parcels currently owned by the city. The Urban Redevelopment Authority board granted Millcraft an extension to buy the property as long as Esplanade officials adhere to certain conditions, such as meeting with local organizations about the project. The Esplanade is expected to generate a one-time, $60 million tax-and-fee benefit for the city, $30 million a year in economic benefits and 800 construction jobs. Construction should start next year and wrap up in 2023. Millcraft already has hired the joint venture of Yates Construction, based in Mississippi, and local contractor Massaro Corp. to perform preconstruction services.
Developers are including features like the Crystal Lagoons lagoon and Ferris wheel in their projects in order to attract a wide variety of potential residents and commercial tenants, as well as visitor traffic.
A Crystal Lagoon opened this year in the Epperson Ranch subdivision in Wesley Chapel, Florida, which is in the Tampa metro area. The project was slated to be the first Crystal Lagoons project in the U.S., but permitting issues kept the lake closed for use until this month. According to a report from The Tampa Bay Times, the 7.5-acre water feature is the length of six football fields and takes 16 million gallons of water to fill. It took crews months to fill the lagoon because they were limited to pumping 250,000 gallons a day during off-peak water use.
Rowlett, Texas, officials were caught off guard this summer when new developers of the planned $1 billion Bayside project decided to eliminate the Crystal Lagoons feature. The development team said the lagoon would not attract business tenants, which were needed to lease the 1.7 million square feet of available office space, and opted for Texas-specific natural elements instead. City planners, in fact, were so rattled at this and other significant deviations from the original proposal that they rejected the entire Bayside plan in September. Developers and the city are now working on a revised strategy for the project.