South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

Riverfront IPOD will change zoning along all Pittsburgh's rivers


The City of Pittsburgh has begun a process to transform riverfront property from an industrial commodity to being an amenity with not only a local but also a regional draw.

Speaking at the December meeting of the South Side Planning Forum, City Planner Ashley Holloway and Community Affairs Liaison Sally Stadelman outlined a plan to institute a temporary Riverfront Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) for the next 18 to 24 months while the Zoning Code is updated.

Mr. Holloway explained the IPOD would make the zoning process “a little more stringent.” Currently zoning along the rivers is Urban Industrial, allowing almost anything to be built there and “we don’t want that to happen anymore.”

The goal is to make riverfront property safer and more accessible to the public. The Riverfront IPOD will affect property along all three rivers.

Properties extending out 200 ft. from the river will be under a set of more stringent guidelines, while properties 200 ft. to the boundary’s edge will follow less strict guidelines. Design and review requirements will vary by the project size and proximity to the river.

Among other things, a review will be required in Zone A, from the river extending out 200 ft., for building demolition, erecting or enlarging structures by more than 2,400 feet, and for every new or enlarged parking area.

In Zone B, 200 ft. to the boundary of the zone, every structure or group of structures larger than 10,000 will require review along with new or enlarged parking areas of more than 15 parking stalls.

As part of the design review process for buildings, it will provide site plan review criteria and allows the Zoning Administrator to request a transportation analysis. The Planning Commission will also be able to ask if the project team has reached out to pertinent community groups.

The minimum riverfront setback will be 50 ft., excluding activities that require riverfront access such as a marina. A 95 ft. setback is proposed to protect the river’s environmental quality and to create space for a linear, continuous riverfront trail.

No more than 30 percent of a building’s footprint may be located within 95 ft. of the river. No building will be permitted to be longer than 500 ft. to ensure public access to the river.

The IPOD will not permit any flat, blank walls longer than 70 ft. that are visible from a street, pedestrian easement or the river’s edge. If walls are longer than 70 ft., they will be required to be articulated through stepbacks, doors, windows, building entrances or lobbies.

Mr. Holloway noted the buildings will be required to have some sort of transparency such as windows.

Parking will not be permitted to be visible from the riverfront and will be required to be screened. While parking will be limited in the size of surface lots next to the river and pedestrian walkways, there will be a limited amount of parking permitted for visitors to the riverfront.

He noted the IPOD wouldn’t affect a new building in SouthSide Works. As a Specially Planned District, SouthSide Works is already governed by a stricter zoning code. However, if changes to the Specially Planned District are made, the changes would fall under the Riverfront IPOD guidelines.

The Riverfront IPOD would only be temporary while the Zoning Code is being updated and changed to reflect the new uses.

Area residents throughout the city within 150 ft. of the proposed zoning change should have already received a mailing explaining the proposed changes. In addition, a community outreach meeting is planned for the Market House on January 13 at 6 p.m.


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