ShareThis Page
Allegheny

Robotics institute set to anchor Pittsburgh's mammoth Almono development

Bob Bauder
| Monday, Aug. 7, 2017, 5:51 p.m.
Gov. Tom Wolf says legislation to add a job search requirement for certain Medicaid recipients would have increased costs.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Gov. Tom Wolf says legislation to add a job search requirement for certain Medicaid recipients would have increased costs.
Governor Tom Wolf tours Mill 19 at the Almono development site in Pittsburgh's  Hazelwood section on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Governor Tom Wolf tours Mill 19 at the Almono development site in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood section on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Governor Tom Wolf answers questions from the media after touring Mill 19 at the Almono development site in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood section on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Governor Tom Wolf answers questions from the media after touring Mill 19 at the Almono development site in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood section on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Governor Tom Wolf speaks with community members outside of Pittsburgh Community Kitchen in Hazelwood on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Governor Tom Wolf speaks with community members outside of Pittsburgh Community Kitchen in Hazelwood on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Governor Tom Wolf buys lunch from Kim Allen, owner of Fat Rai's, in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood section on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Governor Tom Wolf buys lunch from Kim Allen, owner of Fat Rai's, in Pittsburgh's Hazelwood section on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Carnegie Mellon University's Advanced Robotics Manufacturing Institute will be the first anchor tenant to set up shop in a former Hazelwood steel mill, officials said Monday.

Donald Smith, president of the Regional Industrial Development Corp., said the institute would occupy about two-thirds of the first of three buildings planned for Mill 19, a former LTV rolling mill.

Gov. Tom Wolf visited the site Monday to examine the mill property owned by the Almono partnership, which includes the Heinz Endowments and Richard King Mellon and Claude Worthington Benedum foundations. RIDC has managed the site.

“From the commonwealth's point of view it's a way to renovate, rehabilitate an area that's been not under utilized, (but) unutilized for the last ‘how-many' years,” Wolf said. “Aesthetically, think of what it means for the appearances in this area, but then it also reconnects the area of Hazelwood. I think what they're trying to do here is an audacious thing: to try to re-establish that connection in a way that pays tribute to Pittsburgh's current incarnation as a high-tech capital.”

Almono is planning a $120 million development including light manufacturing, about 2,000 apartments, shops and restaurants on the 178-acre property bordering the Monongahela River.

Plans call for the removal of Mill 19's siding and construction of three separate buildings under the 1,500-foot-long building's steel skeleton.

Solar panels on the western side of the roof should be enough to completely power the first two buildings.

Gary Fedder, CEO of the robotics institute, said ARM and Almono are finalizing lease details.

“It's going to happen, but we need to work through a few details,” he said. “I want this thing built by the end of March. You can do the math and figure out how challenging this is going to be.”

CMU in January won more than $253 million in funding to set up the institute. It includes $80 million from the U.S. Defense Department and $173 million from some 200 partner organizations.

The institute will work on integrating robotics and autonomy into manufacturing.

Smith said the Mill 19 design was chosen to maintain Pittsburgh's history as a steel producer and its future as a hub for high-tech manufacturing.

Ride-share giant Uber Technologies has developed a test track for self-driving cars on the Almono site, although Smith said the San Francisco-based company is no longer leasing a railroad roundhouse on the property. Smith said Almono plans to keep the roundhouse.

He said RIDC has scrapped plans to move its offices into Mill 19 because private companies are lining up as potential tenants. He said Almono is negotiating with an international technology company, which he would not name, as a major tenant in the second building.

“It doesn't help the world much to have us here,” Smith said. “It really helps a lot more to have a technology company with a presence.”

Wolf, who also toured the Hazelwood business district, said he supports a state Senate proposal to help plug a $3.2 billion gap in the state's $32 billion budget.

The Senate voted for a mix of new taxes and tax increases, including a levy on natural gas extraction.

“What I like in the Senate proposal: There is real, recurring revenue,” Wolf said. “No one likes any taxes, but we're looking for something that has recurring revenue. It's real, it's not smoke and mirrors and it passes that test.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-765-2312, bbauder@tribweb.com or via twitter @bobbauder.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me