If you’ve been paying attention to the real estate market in our area over the last few years you’ve probably noticed a marked uptick in loft apartment offerings, both to rent and to buy. Loft apartments have become extremely popular, particularly among younger professionals, and the market has been more than happy to step up development to satisfy demand.
Interesting loft apartments can now be found in many different Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Lawrenceville hosts Locomotive Lofts, which used to house H.K. Porter Co., and the Bayard School Lofts, which are housed in the old Bayard School building, one of the oldest surviving school buildings in Pittsburgh.
In Bloomfield, you can find Bloomfield Lofts, an 18-unit loft conversion of a turn-of-the-century linen factory building. Uptown is home to Fifth Avenue School lofts, another loft conversion of a late 19th-century school building. And in Southside you can find Brew House Lofts, artists lofts occupying the old Duquesne Brewing Company building.
Downtown Pittsburgh hosts a number of exciting loft projects, including the Aria in the Cultural District, upscale living in Lando Lofts, and the Lofts at Liberty. And of course, the project that gets the most press is Heinz Lofts, the 150 unit building in the Strip District that was once a services building for Heinz employees.
Loft living has exploded in the city, and the story behind this phenomenon is just as interesting as the buildings themselves.
Why Loft Apartments?
Loft apartments are a good fit for cities where development space is at a premium, and where developers and residents would prefer to keep the original character of the neighborhood instead of tearing down old buildings and putting up generic apartment or condo buildings.
The story of Pittsburgh’s loft boom began in the ’80s when the last of the manufacturing jobs, which defined the area for the better part of the 20th century disappeared. This left abandoned, rotting old industrial buildings littered across the city. Many of these were torn down. But a few visionary developers understood the historical value of these old buildings. They recognized that the buildings had character that simply couldn’t be replicated and a history that was gold for marketing.
And so, starting in the late ‘90s many cities around the country started seeing old industrial buildings, school buildings, and all sorts of other buildings with historical value getting developed into residential spaces.
Oftentimes these old buildings, which were never intended for residential use, had challenging internal structures which made standard apartments difficult to construct. Plus standard apartments didn’t allow developers to take advantage of all the interesting architectural features that these old buildings contained. Loft apartments, on the other hand, with their open floor plans, could occupy odd-shaped spaces, and worked well with high ceilings and large, industrial windows. And so lofts became the default apartment style in many of the building conversion projects.
And Why Now?
Among younger consumers, there’s a general “less is more” aesthetic developing. You can see it in the tiny house craze and the digital nomads that roam the country in RVs and converted vans. There’s a sense that having stuff, and enough room to store it, is less important than getting out and experiencing life. In terms of living quarters, it’s more important that the space is interesting, cool, and close by to social hubs than how much square footage it occupies.
Loft apartments check all of these boxes. They make interesting use of available space in buildings that are conversation starters. They’re generally right in the middle of a bustling social scene, and their open floor plans are conducive to large, informal social gatherings. They can be small, but usually have large windows that let in a lot of natural light. And they generally have high ceilings that make even small apartments feel much larger.
Loft apartments are becoming popular because they embrace a sense of community that’s lacking in modern, overly-subdivided living spaces. Loft buildings generally deliver robust common areas that make up for smaller apartment sizes. This brings people together instead of locking them away in their homes. Loft buildings are self-contained microcosms of the city that surrounds them, and more people are coming around to that new type of community.
Heinz Lofts Define This New Community Aesthetic
Among Pittsburgh’s many loft projects, Heinz Lofts is easily the most popular, and there are multiple reasons for this.
For one, Heinz is one of Pittsburgh’s most iconic and beloved companies, this year celebrating its 150th birthday in the city. Its history with the people of the city runs deep. This story elevates the Heinz Lofts beyond just a beautiful old building. Living in the Heinz Lofts connects residents to the history of the city in a tangible way that other conversion projects can’t match.
The location is excellent, too. The building is right on the Allegheny River, within easy walking distance to hiking and biking trails, and all that the Strip District has to offer.
But what really sets Heinz Lofts apart is the way it embraces the communal living modality that loft buildings aspire to. Heinz Lofts is a city unto itself, with an indoor, heated parking area, a cafe, meeting spaces, a fully-equipped fitness center, on-site dry cleaning pick up, and outdoor public areas.
There are plenty of opportunities for neighbors to interact, and for social people, this can be more important than the amenities, and there are many, that are packed into the loft themselves. Life in the public space surrounding the apartments can be more important, and more fulfilling than what happens within the loft walls. This makes Heinz Lofts a hit with people looking for extended living experiences.
If You’re Interested in Loft Living, I Can Help
Call or Text Michelle @ 724-504-0070
I’ve been working in real estate since 2006, first as an investor and then as an agent. I know this city. I love this city. Its charm, vitality, and people invigorate me and I’ve been championing it for years.
My philosophy is people first. I’m not trying to earn your business. I’m out to help people sell their houses or get into the best home for them. My experience has shown me that when you’re looking out for people’s best interests, the business comes.
So let me help you on your hunt for the perfect loft apartment experience. There are many to choose from, and yours is out there.