Hazelwood’s buildup of modern manufacturing is poised to continue with city approval of the University of Pittsburgh’s plan for a biomanufacturing facility.

The City Planning Commission approved a proposal for a 68-foot-tall building totaling 185,000 square feet that will house a cell- and gene-therapy facility. The approval of the BioForge building continues the high tech redevelopment of the 178-acre area known as Hazelwood Green, which includes the neighboring Mill 19, housing Carnegie Mellon University’s Manufacturing Futures Institute. And nearby is a site for which CMU recently received commission approval to build a robotics laboratory

Architecture firm HOK expects construction of the BioForge facility to begin later this year and to be completed by mid-2025. Pitt has partnered with a Massachusetts-based company, ElevateBio, and construction of BioForge is expected to cost $250 million, according to HOK. 

An aerial view presented to the City Planning Commission of the Hazelwood Green site with red outline around the BioForge site.

ElevateBio works on gene and cell therapy, a process that can be used to alter people’s cells and genes as a way of addressing and eliminating serious neurological genetic diseases.

Jamilah Ducar, executive director of Pitt’s Engaged Campus, emphasized the university’s community outreach efforts

“Pitt has a long history of outreach with the Hazelwood community going back to 2000,” Ducar said.

She said that in the process of holding community meetings, Pitt found that the primary concern from residents is “broad economic inclusion.” 

She continued, “to that end we’ve worked diligently on workforce development.”

She said that as a result of this outreach and training efforts, Hazelwood residents will be prepared for the new job opportunities coming to the area.

Only one member of the public voiced their opinion during the commission’s hearing process. 

Michael Murray, of Hazelwood, said he was retired and had developed an “emotional connection to the site.”

He said that he was happy to see that the new facility would complement Mill 19. 

“We as a community are very, very interested in seeing the dynamics of how everything is choreographed,” Murray said. “We don’t want to lose the genuineness of that site.”

Eric Jankiewicz is PublicSource’s economic development reporter and can be reached at ericj@publicsource.org or on Twitter @ericjankiewicz.

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Eric Jankiewicz is a reporter focused on housing and economic development for PublicSource. A native New Yorker, Eric moved to Pittsburgh in 2017 and has since fallen in love with his adopted city, even...