District 15 building in Pittsburgh’s Strip District to house Facebook division | TribLIVE.com
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Bob Bauder

A Bridgeville developer putting finishing touches on a four-story office building in Pittsburgh’s Strip District to house Facebook’s Oculus Division is moving ahead with plans for a $60 million office tower next door.

RDC Design + Build and partner Orangestar Properties of Youngstown hosted a ceremonial ribbon-cutting Monday featuring around 70 guests at the $23 million District 15 office building at 15th and Smallman streets.

Shawn Fox, RDC’s director, said if all goes as planned the company would start construction this summer on a $60 million, nine-story office building next door.

“It’s going to be a signature building for Pittsburgh,” said Fox, who previously served as chief of staff to former Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “It’ll be in the skyline.”

District 15 features 18-foot ceilings on the first floor, two public plazas, a fitness center, electric car charging stations and a bike share program. The fourth floor has outdoor balcony space and large windows with views of the 16th Street Bridge and the Strip.

Facebook will occupy the entire building, Fox said.

The building is part of the Buncher Co.’s Riverfront Landing residential complex along the Allegheny riverfront. It sits at the beginning of what’s been dubbed “robotics row” after tech companies that have found homes in the Strip. RDC secured a long-term land lease for the property from Buncher and is negotiating another lease for the new building.

“We spent a lot of time … on this project that we felt fit robotics row,” Fox said.

The project was built on “spec,” meaning RDC had no tenant before starting construction.

Dennis Davin, Pennsylvania’s secretary of Community and Economic Development, said it’s rare for a development to start without a tenant.

“They didn’t have a tenant. They just did it,” he said. “Pittsburgh’s such a hot market that developers are saying, ‘Let’s get ahead of the game,’ and the next thing you know you’ve got a Facebook.”

Mayor Bill Peduto said the company took a major risk in starting the project.

“There’s some words that are just amazing to hear in Pittsburgh, which is build on spec, 100 percent occupied within a year,” he said. “It was an idea that you had that this was an area that would have tenants. You did it on a hunch. Those are the type of developers that we like to invest in.”

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