Pittsburgh Public Market moves to new, improved location in Strip

The Produce Terminal, especially in the summer months, was not always kind to Amy Pasterak's produce.

Without air conditioning, the Strip District building that housed the Pittsburgh Public Market often grew overly warm, leaving items such as kale "wilted and sad," said Ms. Pasterak of Clarion River Organics.

On Wednesday, Ms. Pasterak's kale was neither wilted nor sad. She was overseeing the Clarion River Organics booth at the Pittsburgh Public Market's new location, a large climate-controlled building that stretches along the 2400 block of Penn Avenue in the Strip District.

Pittsburgh Public Market has 'soft' opening

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was among those on hand for the "soft" opening of the new Pittsburgh Public Market, Downtown. (Video by Nate Guidry; 10/23/2013)

"I'm really hopeful it's going to bring some more traffic," she said. "It's definitely a nice facility."

The Pittsburgh Public Market, whose merchants sell items ranging from beer to pasta to produce, celebrated its new home Wednesday morning with a soft opening.

"We encourage everyone to come down and visit," said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who rang the opening bell. "It's open for business."

He and others toured the space Wednesday, taking in the merchants who were readying their booths for the market's first day. Eric Earnest of Cleveland-based Ohio City Pasta was setting up his booth for its first appearance at the market. His booth was near Mindy Moran of Butler, whose family business Jthn. Moran Woodworks joined the Pittsburgh Public Market two years ago.

The market has provided the Moran family, who previously advertised their custom woodworking business solely by word of mouth, a retail space. They are in the process of building a showroom in the Penn Avenue building.

"I think this is going to be a great location," Ms. Moran said. "And it's a great opportunity for small, local businesses."

The Pittsburgh Public Market, which opened in 2010 and made the move this year with the help of funding from the Urban Redevelopment Authority, did not move far from its original location in the Produce Terminal on Smallman Street. But the general consensus Wednesday was that the move represented a big improvement.

The Penn Avenue location, Mr. Ravenstahl said, is more pedestrian-friendly than the previous location. "It's a location that's going to work," he said.

Becky Rodgers, executive director of Neighbors in the Strip, said the new location extends the length of the Strip's business district and connects it with residential areas. The building itself, which has about 20,000 square feet of market space compared with 10,000 square feet at the Produce Terminal, is also a step up, she said.

"It's exciting, because in this location, we have air conditioning and heat and bathrooms that work," she said.

A grand opening is scheduled for sometime in November. The market plans to add more features, such as seating for visitors, said Tiffani Emig, the market manager. Already, organizers have added windows and doors to brighten the Penn Avenue building, whose previous uses included being a print shop and a storage site for telecommunication servers.

The market also plans to recruit more participants, adding to the current roster of more than a dozen full-time vendors and 10 weekend farmer's market vendors, Ms. Emig said.

The market, which was closed for a little more than a month for the move, is also expanding its hours of operation. At its Produce Terminal location, it was open just Friday and Saturday. Now it will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, except for Saturday when it is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707.

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