On Tuesday, May 24, 2016, Pittsburgh City Council passed an ordinance creating a new Interim Planning Overlay District (IPOD) along all of Pittsburgh’s nearly 35 miles of riverfront. The IPOD legislation was initiated by the Department of City Planning in order to address the predominantly industrial nature of zoning along the riverfront. See http://pittsburghpa.gov/dcp/zoning/ipod/ipod5. The IPOD will remain in place for 18 to 24 months, during which time more comprehensive zoning regulations will be developed for the riverfront zone.

The IPOD divides the riverfront into two zones. Zone A encompasses all parcels within 200 feet of the riverfront, and Zone B includes those parcels further than 200 feet from the riverfront, but still within the overlay boundary.

The IPOD adds certain supplemental restrictions and design review procedures that will directly affect the ability of property owners to develop real estate in the riverfront district. Most notably, the IPOD: (1) restricts the length of newly constructed buildings to 500 feet; (2) restricts the length of non-articulated walls to less than 70 feet; (3) prohibits the construction of parking structures between the riverfront and a structure or public street; and (4) prohibits surface parking lots of greater than 15 parking spaces within Zone A.

In addition to new restrictions, the IPOD also imposes more extensive design review procedures on certain development within the riverfront zone. Project Development Plan (PDP) review before the Planning Commission (briefing and public hearing) will now be required for any project located in Zone A, and which involves: (1) full building demolition; (2) new or enlarged parking areas and structures; (3) new or enlarged structures that are adjacent to the riverfront; or (4) new or existing structures that are constructed or enlarged to above 2,400 square feet. PDP review will also be required for projects located in Zone B that involve: (1) new or enlarged parking areas that contain at least 30 parking stalls; (2) construction of new structures or groups of structures of at least 10,000 square feet; or (3) enlargement of existing structures of greater than 5,000 square feet.

Since first proposed, significant amendments have been made to the IPOD legislation. Notably, the final version of the IPOD legislation no longer applies to any development where a Specially Planned (SP) District is already in place (i.e., Southside Works, Station Square, Riverfront Landing, Washington’s Landing & Almono), and the 500 foot building length restriction no longer applies to sports stadiums.

Businesses and property owners with real estate interests in the IPOD should be aware of the new proposed restrictions and review procedures when planning for future development.