Thanks to a special series in Mansion Global, we’re able to look at the impact coming-of-age tech hubs are having on real estate in international and national cities. In Part 1 of this two-part series, we looked at what’s been going on in the Silicon Beach communities of Los Angeles…communities such as Santa Monica, Venice, Silver Lake, Culver City, Playa del Ray, Marina del Rey, El Segundo, and Echo Park. Today, we look at the impact the coming-of-age tech hub of Pittsburgh is having on real estate in its respective neighborhoods.
Pittsburgh is reinventing itself as a former “Steel Town” to a “Tech Town.” According to the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Pittsburgh’s tech firms employ approximately 23% of the region’s workforce to the tune of over 295,000 workers. Google, Microsoft, Apple are already engrained within the city while Facebook is planning a huge expansion into the city limits.
Spearheaded by students and faculty from the city’s multiple world-class universities (Carnegie Mellon, University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University), people are moving away from the suburbs and from other parts of the country to pursue jobs in robotics, AI and driverless cars.
All of this tech action h as transformed Pittsburgh’s local real estate market. Darla K. Jobkar with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services The Preferred Realty in Pittsburgh told Mansion Global’s V.F. Hendrickson, “We’re seeing sales prices that we never thought we’d see.”
New luxury developments have amenities “techies want,” such as bike storage, smart-home tech, stylish common areas, outdoor spaces…all at prices nearly one tenth those in San Francisco and Seattle.
According to Zillow, the median home value in Pittsburgh is $152,600. Home values have increased by +9.1% since April 2018 and they are predicted to increase +5.5% within the next year. “It’s a very affordable city and a very accessible city,” said Barrie Athol, CEO of Ascender, a local incubator and co-working space. “It’s also a great foodie city,” he added.
This surge in tech companies has been a game changer for several Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Referred to as “Robotics Row” along the Allegheny River, the Strip District has seen old warehouses converted into residential developments and office spaces. Lawrenceville, Morningside, Decca London, Empire on Liberty and Garfield are experiencing an influx of Boomers who are trading large, high maintenance suburban homes for urban living “near the heart of the action.”
According to Jackie and Robert Capretto, ages 67 and 72 respectively, “As soon as they build housing (in these neighborhoods), it’s sold.” This couple ought to know as they left their suburban home of 40 years to be where the action is.
Robert Capretto, founder of the Pittsburgh-based Oak Hill Holdings investment company, said, “Some (talented people coming from universities that provide experience in AI and robotics) actually don’t want to move to San Francisco because of the cost of living. Some talented people want to live here in Pittsburgh where they went to school.”
Known as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship, the Innovation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh indicated that 23 start-up companies were formed in Pittsburgh in 2018. Athol of Ascender said, “The more people think that tech is helping to drive positive change, the more it happens. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”