Design studio hopes to add to Pittsburgh's social spaces
While there's boundless appeal to city living — great views, walkable communities, scads of culture — oftentimes, city spaces don't offer much in the way of outdoor areas.
Sure, city residents can take a trip to the park or hope a friend with a nice yard throws a barbecue, but there's no real place to can call your own when you want to enjoy the few months of decent Pittsburgh weather.
A group of local 'Burghers hope to solve that problem by creating a place where just about anyone can gather with friends, fire up the barbecue and throw down a game of horseshoes.
Deeplocal, a Strip District-based innovation/design studio, is developing Bayardstown Social Club. They're turning a vacant lot at 3008 Penn Ave. into a members-only BYOB backyard. It will officially open with a free party at 8 p.m. May 31, and anyone interested in membership can register their email address for updates at www.bayardstown.com.
Deeplocal CEO Nathan Martin says the project is representative of society's desire to return to the “real world.”
“It's strange how it's so remarkable when people interact in the real world,” he says. “Coffee shops used to be places where people hang out, but now they're always with a laptop or cell phone.”
Bayardstown will have picnic tables, a campfire and grills. Members and their guests can bring their own food. A stage will provide space for live music. And, what backyard would be complete without a horseshoe pit?
They're still shaking out cost details, but Martin says it will be around $10 a person per month. The team also is building a mobile web app that will be used to register for the club and operate as a member's remote control to reserve tables and register for special events.
Martin says the inspiration for the name comes from a portion of the Strip once known as Bayards–town, made up mostly of Irish immigrants known for donning stovepipe hats. The local gang, the Bayardstown boys, would tussle with their rivals, the Allegheny boys.
The Deeplocal folks are spending the next few days prepping the space with fences and furniture, all from salvaged materials. There will be a covered area with stretched canvas and strung lights, along the lines of a French cafe, Martin says.
Members don't have to be city residents, but they do have to be 21 or older. There's room for 200 members for now, until organizers see how frequently the space is used and by how many people. It will be available for use Thursday and Friday evenings and all day Saturdays and Sundays, and stay open through October.
The group has gotten all of its necessary permits for the space and hopes its efforts inspire others to pursue similar ventures.
“We haven't seen anything else like this. As far as I know, it's pretty unique,” says Heather Estes, Deep–local director of new business. “We'll be able to give our information to other people who might want to do this for their own city.”
If it's a success, the group plans to scope out other areas around Pittsburgh that might work with a similar purpose, says project manager Amy Weis.
“We want to use this as an experiment and learn from it,” Martin says.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.