[ Photo above: Facebook film crew in an early morning conversation with Mila Sanina, Executive Director of PublicSource — a partner in the Facebook Journalism Project ]
The first short scroll is all the info you need to potentially lease and get an idea of who your exciting "roommates" might be! The remaining story-telling, picture gallery, and reporting detail is there only if you want it. We like community history, and we like to pay homage to the creative COMPANIES and PEOPLE who have passed through and — by default, or on purpose — have participated in the evolution of our UPTOWN community.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
We offer acknowledgement and support of the great transformational period we have entered, to those who are suffering financially and emotionally, to those whose lives have been lost from virus or the dysfunctional ideas of what it is to be a human occupant of our climate arrested planet.
Let's create a better world right now.
WHAT'S AVAILABLE : WHAT'S NEW : LEASING
A unique creative environment and Pittsburgh's first entrepreneurial coworking space in 2007 — named StartUptown in 2010 — our NEW BRAND is 5thAVE STUDIO. Senior editor Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic said in September of 2010, “Inside — StartUptown is a cross between a traditional co-working space and something with MORE SOUL.”
We've come a long way since then!
$316,900 EARNED by KIZ-qualified companies in 2019 at 5thAVE STUDIO, and at the Paramount/Avenu site, both located in Uptown — a total of $4.8M+ since the PCKIZ was established in 2009. Congratulations!
We are full occupied with no openings, but the studio is always in a moderate state of flux throughout the year — don't hesitate to call — GREAT COFFEE by La Prima Expresso Co. of Pittsburgh is always fresh, come visit!
TO LEASE, or to have a conversation about our Uptown community Ecoinnovation District CALL DALE MCNUTT at 412-400-7154 or email dale@5thAVE-PGH.com
C O M P A N Y S N A P S H O T S
— PUBLICSOURCE (PS) celebrated one year of residence at the site May 1, 2020 —Their essential local journalism work expanded to include in-depth coverage of COVID-19 and its impact on the region. Both their readership and the number of Pittsburghers who support their work financially have nearly doubled compared to last year.
PublicSource is becoming the essential source for Pittsburghers seeking to improve their lives and engage their communities. PS is recently a recipient of a $100,000 grant via the Facebook Journalism Project.
PublicSource has also been honored with six state, regional and national awards for coverage in 2019 — From toxic chemicals in the environment to first-person perspectives on mental health and a deep look at what it means to live on low wages in Western Pennsylvania, these awards honor excellent reporting of stories often left untold.
AND JUST IN — September 15, 2020:
• PublicSource is a finalist for General Excellence in Online Journalism in the micro newsrooms category and two PublicSource projects were also named finalists in separate categories.
• The Good River project, launched in November 2019 as a regional collaboration, was named a finalist for the Excellence in Collaboration and Partnerships Award.
• The True Cost of Court Debt was named a finalist for the Explanatory Reporting Award. The four-part series focused on issues related to court fines and fees in Allegheny County and was led by reporter Juliette Rihl. The prestigious awards honor excellence in online journalism worldwide.
— 5thAVE RESIDENT, Attorney Jay Hornack, is now a Legal Committee member of Disability Rights Pennsylvania, a hearing officer for the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, and professor of disability discrimination law at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Law. From anti-discrimination provisions to access, the Americans with Disabilities Act represented a civil rights milestone at its enactment in 1990. We've now had 30 years to see how the act has empowered our communities and made them more inclusive. But we've also had 30 years to see where the act may have fallen short. Jay was 10 years into his legal career when the ADA was passed, and it ushered in cases he pressed in labor and employment discrimination.
— ADA at 30: Accessibility in Pittsburgh —
— JEANNE MCNUTT retires as Executive Director of community redevelopment organization UPTOWN PARTNERS. $880M+ in investment is transforming her Uptown community — On January 21, Jeanne McNutt sent a letter to her board announcing her retirement on May 30, 2020, after 15-plus years of engagement with the community where she lives and works with her husband Dale. Along with Duquesne University and numerous other community stakeholders she had helped form Uptown Partners (UP) of Pittsburgh, a community CBO that would help stabilize and give voice to a corridor neighborhood that continued to be overlooked despite its critical location connecting Downtown and Oakland.
— 5thAVE WELCOMES: Jeff Gooch and Stephen Norcup, Co-Founders and Partners of Innovative Public Safety. Founded in 2020, Innovative Public Safety, LLC was formed to provide the tools and expertise to bring innovative solutions to public safety agencies. They have over 30 years of combined public safety and technology experience and are focused on helping clients to better understand and implement technology, use data to make informed decisions, reduce risk, and prepare for the future. Stephen previously worked at the 5thAVE site with successful medical device startup Forest Devices.
— FILMMAKER DREW NICHOLAS, Blood Memory: A Story of Removal and Return, continues to win awards as his work is released across the country. Battles over blood quantum and ‘best interests’ resurface the untold history of America’s Indian Adoption Era — a time when nearly one-third of children were removed from tribal communities nationwide. As political scrutiny over Indian child welfare intensifies, an adoption survivor helps others find their way home through song and ceremony. A fitting exposure of one of the injustices in America's poignant reckoning.
— CALLER READY, the world's most powerful Pay-Per-Call Platform for performance marketers who want to scale their lead generation businesses sits on the main floor of 5thAVE STUDIO with 5 top software developers on a rapidly growing team. Locating in a KIZ Zone, Joe Charlson, CEO and Founder, has been able to take full advantage of the PA Keystone Innovation Zone Tax Credits (over $400,000 to date) — looking to hire up to 6 others for his expanding team — CallerReady helps illustrate the success of the KIZ Program — their PA State Tax dollars help Joe risk new hires and to gain industry traction more rapidly.
— APOLLO NEUROSCIENCE creates wearable devices that use low frequency vibration to help improve balance in the nervous system. Having raised $4.5M in funding and selling out of thousands of units in the first two weeks of product release in January — when COVID-19 hit China — CEO and Co-founder, Kathryn Fantauzzi had to pivot to a contract manufacturer in the Pittsburgh region. The Apollo team has occupied an office at 5thAVE on the newly renovated 3rd floor since 2018 — their success is now exponential with a big flurry of good reviews, podcasts and national press.
— CEREBROSCOPE’s mission is to provide non-invasive detection that can be used to develop treatment and improve patient care. With their device fully employed, patients can emerge from the hospital after a severe stroke with less disability. In an award-winning pitch at LifeX Labs, CEO, Cofounder, Stephen Jones, a Biomedical Engineering PhD with Hospital-based NIH-supported neuroscience research shows that secondary brain injury increases damage by 20%, and hospitals incur increased costs due to longer stays and length of rehab work required. The CerebroScope system combines an innovative sensor array and advanced detection algorithms.
— TURNKEY TAXES: In the 1st quarter of 2020, Turnkey hit a milestone. In a little over four years, the amount of untaxed revenue discovered topped $10 billion dollars. Mark Schuster, founder and CEO of Turnkey Taxes has redesigned the way that information is analyzed in local government. Rather than only measuring dollars, there is an emphasis on counts, variance, and data validation. Government data is not always perfect so every data source available to the community is incorporated.
Mark also understands that the real expertise comes from those who work within government systems — “software efficiency is the collaborative effort of our users — as we grow, that means we will only improve,” comments Schuster.
— JOIN MAKERSPACE HackPGH on the ground floor. Read more below!
— MAKE AN APPOINTMENT with hair-styling salon MOXIE CHOP STUDIO on the 2nd floor. TEXT Mark at 412.916.7313 or Haley at 724.322.8345
Photo below: The new UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Institute in Uptown.
Submit a rent payment or a donation here.
PHOTO: Attallah Moore didn't make plans to see any friends this past week because she said she is already nervous just going to the store. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)
For PublicSource, 2019 and 2020 have been big years. From moving to a large open new headquarters at 5thAVE STUDIOS in Uptown, to ambitious collaborations, to investigative projects to memorable first-person stories, their hard-working and talented team has been living the present and future of local journalism.
PublicSource dedicated resources to dig into local effects of the climate crisis. They informed readers about the dangers of emerging environmental threats like PFAS. And, they took a deep look at the reality of low-wage living in the Pittsburgh region and at promises vs. performance of our mayor. PublicSource has served as a platform for people whose stories you may not otherwise hear or know.
In 2019, PublicSource published hundreds of stories and hosted several events to inform and engage thousands of residents on issues important to Pittsburgh, Allegheny County and our region. In 2020, due to the coronavirus crisis their reporting has been highly sought after.
Their essential local journalism work expanded to include in-depth coverage of COVID-19 and its impact on the region. Both their readership and the number of Pittsburghers who support our work financially have nearly doubled compared to last year.
PHOTO: Apollo co-founders Kathryn Fantauzzi, CEO and Dr. Dave Rabin MD, PhD.
Apollo is a 5thAVE Uptown resident, Pittsburgh-based company hoping to lead the charge for a new generation of wearable technology. In January 2020, they first shipped their flagship product — worn around the wrist or ankle — the watch-like device called Apollo uses inaudible sound waves to calibrate mindfulness, mood and more. Early adopters include doctors and their patients, athletes and those dealing with chronic stress, but the company aims to position the device as a holistic alternative to treatment relying heavily on prescription drugs.
“It is part of our natural human response, to use touch — this helps you sleep, this helps you focus. A lot of people use it to use less caffeine, less alcohol,” says Kathryn Fantauzzi, Apollo’s co-founder and CEO. “Honestly, as a CEO and an entrepreneur, the head of a startup — it is my superpower.” https://apolloneuro.com/
The device, which retails after presale for $349, uses vibrations — some users say it feels like wearing an ocean wave — to mediate users between calmness and energized states. “There’s a rich history of medical device organizations in Pittsburgh,” says Fantauzzi, who previously worked on a $20 million incubator fund at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). “Apollo is really sitting at a spot where it has the benefits of that rich history and expertise in engineering and business in that space, but also incorporates something that’s app-driven and user-driven. It all makes this technology very accessible and very simple.”
Edited extract: Pittsburgh Business Times
PHOTO: Drew Nicholas co-founded the film collective In Medias Res.
At 5thAVE STUDIO in circa 2015—then called StartUptown — Drew engaged in numerous projects from concept to completion, including co-producing the micro-budget feature I'm A Stranger Here Myself. Drew's work has been recognized by The Pittsburgh Foundation/Heinz Endowments, Big Sky Documentary Film Fest, Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Fest, and Santa Fe Independent Film Fest, among others. In addition to independent filmmaking Drew also works as a Location Scout/Manager on industry productions such as the Netflix Original Series Mindhunter.
Blood Memory is his feature film debut. He maintains his address at the studio today as we track his documentary film journey and successes over the past 5 years as awards accrue and the PBS version is closer to realization. Meet some of the crew at https://www.bloodmemorydoc.com/meet-the-crew or https://www.bloodmemorydoc.com/
For Sandy White Hawk, the story of America’s Indian Adoption Era is not one of saving children but of destroying families and tribes. At 18 months of age, Sandy was removed from her Sicangu Lakota relatives and placed with white missionaries over 400 miles from the reservation. After a 30-year struggle through abuse and recovery, Sandy set out to restore the missing pieces of her stolen past and reclaim the Lakota identity she was taught to disown.
Sandy White Hawk discovers that her adoption was not an isolated case, but part of a nationwide assimilation movement that targeted American Indian children.
PHOTO: CallerReady seats await the team's return during the COVID-19 pandemic on the main studio floor at 1936 5th Avenue.
Dale McNutt, 5thAVE Studio director says, “Sometimes I lose touch with a company as I support their environment and daily needs, or in this case, maybe I was never “on track” to understand what Joe was building, with his extraordinary background, ha, we don’t talk much, and I’m more artist than technologist… but based on his record of hiring, the robust website, and the KIZ numbers, big things are happening. Congratulations to Joe Charlson and his CallerReady team.”
They’ve quietly built the world's most powerful Pay-Per-Call Platform for performance marketers who want to scale their lead generation. Visit: https://callerready.com/
Sitting on the main floor of 5thAVE Studio with 5 top software developers on a rapidly growing team. Located in the PCKIZ Zone, Joe Charlson, CEO and Founder, has been able to take full advantage of the PA Keystone Innovation Zone Tax Credits — over $400,000 to date — as he looks to hire up to 6 other off-site key personnel for his rapidly expanding team — CallerReady exemplifies the success of the KIZ Program — their dollars can help Joe risk new hires and gain industry traction more rapidly.
Charlson says, “We help businesses grow by connecting their salespeople with prospects faster and more efficiently. Best in class reporting, attribution, and data sharing are a key part of our technology solution which provides meaningful data for marketers with multiple levels of granularity. Large and small agencies and businesses across a number of verticals love the results we deliver with increases in their lead-to-call connection rates typically in the range of 25% to 100%.”
The website reads, “Fostering great conversations is what we’re all about. For the customer, outstanding means meeting the customer at their point of need by connecting them directly to the best qualified and soonest available representative from the company. For the business, outstanding means providing an easy and low-cost way of finding your best available resource and connecting that person to the customer to convert more sales and build customer loyalty.
Because we’re talking about business, this must be accomplished in a completely measurable way — we call it CompleteTrackability (sm). that’s why we exist and what motivates us every day to continue building the greatest Performance Call Marketing Platform the world has ever seen.”
Joe is a former Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for the former Education Management Corporation (EDMC), one of the largest providers of post-secondary education in North America until closure in 2017.
Prior to that position, Joe co-led a $1.5 billion retail pharmacy business for Target where his claim to fame was taking ClearRx from concept to design finalization in 90-days and leading the team to win the Chairman’s Speed Is Life award for its guest-first reaction to the Vioxx recall. Joe holds a Master of Science degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Bachelor of Science from Brown University.
PHOTO: Stephen Jones at work in his team's enclosed loft space. At 72, he's proof that creativity thrives no matter what your age.
.... "You have all come so far and we can't wait to see what you all accomplish in the future. Also a big thank you to all of the judges that participated in the final pitch competition, Evan Facher, Ph.D., M.B.A., Lisa Mendoza, Sam Bakri, and Ty Gourley." — (edited here for space).
5thAVE Studio resident CerebroScope is a medical device company. Their present team is CEO, Cofounder, Stephen Jones, a Biomedical Engineering PhD with Hospital-based NIH-supported neuroscience research. And Ben Brown, Physics PHD performing data analysis, synthesis and visualization; along with Proof-of-Concept Human Study collaborators at the University of New Mexico.
The company’s focus on secondary brain injury came out of Steve’s academic medical research career where he had an idea for detecting a process associated with secondary brain injury — turning it into a grant-funded company — to obtain proof-of-concept validation. Personally, Steve found it upsetting that this process of secondary brain injury has gone undetected, and therefore untreated, in his colleague’s Neuro-ICU patients.
CerebroScope’s mission is to provide non-invasive detection that can be used to develop treatment and improve patient care. With their device fully employed, patients can emerge from the hospital after a severe stroke with less disability.
Estimates show that secondary brain injury increases damage by 20%, and hospitals incur increased costs due to longer stays and length of rehab work required. The CerebroScope system combines an innovative sensor array and advanced detection algorithms. The ability to gain funding for Phase II will also test whether system use could be expanded to include other conditions where brain injury is known to occur, such as migraine aura, and likely to occur, such as concussion, with the additional goal to provide a clear, definitive, and immediate diagnosis of athletic and battlefield concussion.
The LifeX Labs Accelerator is a 14-week intensive program that drives the creation and growth of viable, de-risked business opportunities built around transformational technology. The program is designed for scientists and innovators who are committed to translating their research into commercial products through new ventures.
Exceptional start-up companies are invited to realize their vision, hone their skills and gather momentum to bring their products to the marketplace. The labs are where pioneering science meets commercial expertise.
It's where we nurture the next generation of biotechnology companies.
“The presentation on customer discovery was so much better than anything we’ve heard before. The fact that this program is free is incredible,” adds CerebroScope’s CEO Stephen Jones.
PHOTO: Dale McNutt, Founder/former Director of StartUptown. His Uptown site is now branded as 5thAVE Studio.
TurnkeyTaxes— Mark Schuster, founder and CEO of TurnkeyTaxes states, “In the 1st quarter of 2020, Turnkey hit a milestone. In a little over four years, the amount of untaxed revenue discovered topped $10 billion dollars as our software combs through every available government data source to analyze information.” In this new age of COVID-19, and the stress on local economies, government need for tax-income flow management is imperative.
Schuster has redesigned the way that information is analyzed in local government. Rather than only measuring dollars, there is an emphasis on counts, variance, and data validation. Government data is not always perfect so every data source available to the community is incorporated. They also understand that the real expertise comes from those who work within government systems — “software efficiency is the collaborative effort of our users — as we grow, that means we will only improve,” comments Schuster.
Mark says of McNutt, “Dale and his wife Jeanne built an environment that gives inspiration and a feel of home. Bottom line is they care — a lot. 1936 itself is like a studio museum. I have not found a place like it in the Pittsburgh region.”
Elite Alloy Concepts — Sasha and his sister were adopted from Saint Petersburg, Russia when they were very young. And Sasha says, "I started working with metal when I was 20 years old. My grandfather was always welding and tinkering in his work shop behind his house. Growing up, I watched and learned. At the time I never thought much of it and had different plans for my future. As we all know life happens — opportunity strikes when we least expect it."
And his company was born, metal fabrication from fire-pits to gates and decorative objects or signage, Sasha's work fits into the maker mold that 5thAVE Studio celebrates.
Ezra Digital — Ezra Digital has added Mobile and Web Application Development into its service offering. Brij Dhanda, CEO, who works from 5thAVE says, “Every successful project starts with truly understanding the problem we are solving. After discussing your goals and challenges, our team analyzes your brand’s current website in the context of your industry, competitors and target audience. We build a deep understanding of how to connect your target audience with your website and how to guide your audience to take desired actions online. Then we develop a strategy that meets your current business goals and anticipates future needs, so your website has a long and purposeful life." Visit https://ezradigital.com/ — see what their team of 8 has accomplished, impressive!
Shoko Designs — Solomon Illochi, former student at Duquesne University in Computer Science, specializes in UI/UX design and web development. Solomon just joined our roster shortly before the COVID-19 stay-at-home protocol was set in place. We look forward to his weekly use of a new studio loft workzone.
The PICTURE GALLERY BELOW is not set as an automated slide show. Click right/left to move.
CLICK OR SWIPE ON MOBILE PHONE. The Gallery will continue to evolve.
Located dead-center between Oakland’s university–medical district and Downtown’s cultural–corporate zone — two of Pennsylvania’s top economic generators — Uptown, as an extension of both Downtown and Oakland, is in a unique position to absorb and catalyze economic, research, and residential demands.
With 52,000 commuters each day, Uptown sits on the highest performing transit corridor in the region, with a state-of-the art $233M BRT system on the near horizon.
Three anchor institutions — Duquesne University, UPMC-Mercy and PPG Paints Arena — attract 3M+ students, employees, and visitors annually for education, healthcare, sports and entertainment — hallmarks of thriving urban environments.
Access all points North, East, South and West easily. Grab the best sandwich in the city at Sam"s Market, or the deli at Merante Bros. Italian Market! Bike along accessible river trails.
Walk to see the Pirates at PNC Park; or four blocks to PPG Paints Arena for ice hockey or a concert; hike to the Downtown Cultural District for a Gallery Crawl and across the river to the Warhol Museum. This October visit the Carnegie Museums in Oakland, or watch a movie at the Southside Works. Hop on a bus to visit 7 universities within a 3 mile radius including CMU and PITT, or stop by Google at Bakery Square. Take Uber to the STRIP or the new shops in Lawrenceville.
At 13,000 total sf, 1936 Fifth Avenue is host to 11,000+ sf of entrepreneurial activity spread over 4 floors. With an outdoor courtyard for working, plus garden seating, it is a unique oasis of creativity along bustling 5th Avenue.
Main Studio and Loft amenities include parking, a shared kitchen on the main floor, three scheduled conference rooms and numerous places to escape for a call — coworking includes business-grade FIOS WiFi, adaptable to resident needs; Flex or Dedicated tables; or work zones with multiple desks from $250, to $300, to clusters from $400 to $950+. At 4,000 sf, 34 presently work on the Loft or Main Studio floor.
A Second Floor previously occupied by startup Forest Devices has now been transformed into hair-styling salon, Moxy Chop Studio.
A Third Floor, live-work for streetwear DailyBreadPA, at 1,220 sf, has now transitioned to a dedicated workspace for Apollo Neuro.
The Ground Floor at 3,600 sf is home to HackPGH. With 70+ members, former President Chad Elish comments, “As Pittsburgh’s oldest maker-space we have been educating, sharing resources, and helping our community grow within the maker movement for over a decade! From open classes to community events, we encourage fixing things instead of replacing them and finding meaningful solutions to everyday problems. HackPGH understands that making starts with the community. Sharing knowledge and skills to help each other and the community is a tenet of HackPGH.” Download the Pitch here.
5thAVE Studio is located in the Uptown-West Oakland Ecoinnovation District — a $1.6M planning and implementation endeavor that supports a new model of public-private partnership emphasizing innovation and deployment of district-scale best practices. Aimed to create neighborhoods of the future — places that are resilient, vibrant, resource efficient, and just. READ the full Plan here.
"The result is a bold vision for Uptown where everyone is invited to come, to innovate, to build new businesses and to find a livable community to call home. The lessons learned here will shape the next generation of neighborhood plans across the city,” comments Mayor William Peduto.
Powered by five key industry sectors — Advanced Manufacturing, Energy, Financial and Business Services, Healthcare and Life Sciences, and Information Technology — Pittsburgh is propelled by 36 colleges and universities, spinning out new business and a diverse residential population.
Carnegie Mellon UniversityUniversity of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, Point Park University's downtown campus and Carlow University — Chatham University + Center for Women's Entrepreneurship(CWE), and the Community College of Allegheny County, among others, are within a 3 mile radius of Uptown. Mayor Bill Peduto states, “The City of Pittsburgh recognizes the catalytic opportunity that exists in Uptown and the model for growth and development that the community represents.”
One of three projects backed by a $2B investment, the UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital will become a beacon for the next stage of larger economic and residential development for the Uptown community.
Projected to open in late 2022, it will position UPMC at the global forefront of rehabilitation and ophthalmic research and care. Once constructed, the 410,000 sf. tower will house nine stories of collaborative space for clinicians, researchers, educators and industry partners.
And it helps anchor an innovation corridor from Downtown–Uptown to Oakland (and the University of Pittsburgh’s burgeoning Life-Sciences community) to Carnegie Mellon University — an effort promoted by the culmination of an 18-month Brooking’s report, “Capturing the Next Economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city.” The report examines Pittsburgh’s unique opportunity to become a top global destination for technology-based economic activity and as a key part of Pittsburgh’s efforts to become a world-class innovation city.
The UPMC-Mercy project reflects the innovative and architectural aspirations of the burgeoning Uptown entrepreneurial community and its neighborhood leadership.
Clinicians and researchers at the new hospital will pursue promising new research for vision restoration and diseases of the eye, and offer technology-assisted rehabilitation services that restore mobility for patients with wide-ranging physical and cognitive challenges.
5thAVE STUDIO thrives at the intersection of innovation and community redevelopment, emphasizing both people AND place.
The workplace design attitude is art studio- makerspace- where new business is formed at its earliest stages. Southern light from 12 ft.-high windows, visual art with cultural and historical references are all critical ingredients. Integrated with whiteboards and broadly curated tech, social, maker and media startups — it's this creativity and collaboration that jump-starts our 21st-century economy.
Founder Dale McNutt writes:
Creating an entrepreneurial culture starts in preschool and ends with the realization that each space we inhabit is a living environment for “making”— from Picasso’s living room, to pie-baking in the kitchen; from art studio, to research laboratory, to automated manufacturing floor — this work, whether propelled through chemistry, physics, biology, creative arts or psychology, is all about making and extending our human boundaries. AND it’s not just about STEM education. It includes quality arts education and exposure to artistic endeavors, and a strengthened personal psychology — all working together to build a broad, enlightened, inclusive and compassionate entrepreneurial culture.
Dale McNutt is Founder of StartUptown, now named Avenu/InnovatePGH; and founder of the 5thAVE STUDIO; business owner, designer and Uptown resident. His wife Jeanne McNutt is the former Executive Director of Uptown Partners. Jeanne retired May 31, 2020.
Qualifying technology companies at StartUptown, Avenu, now 5thAVE STUDIO have accrued $4.8M+ in PA tax benefits through the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ) benefits over the past 10 years LEARN MORE HERE. Call Riverside Center for Innovation for more information at: 412-322-3523.
HISTORY: In August 2018, Urban Innovation21 transitioned its programs to Riverside Center for Innovation — The new partnership between the organizations has provided additional opportunities for startup companies in Pittsburgh’s under-served communities.
Urban Innovation21 (UI21), was unique public-private partnership that had supported the growth of entrepreneurship within Pittsburgh’s innovation economy for more than a decade.
Since its inception more than 12 years ago, Urban Innovation21 had offered programming to support and help grow more than 150 startup companies that have established their operations within Pittsburgh’s under-served communities, including investing more than $10 million of tax credit and early-stage grant funding into these businesses and their communities.
Urban Innovation21 was one of the first US-based organizations to work under the “inclusive innovation” paradigm, thanks to the leadership provided by William Generett Jr., its Executive Director, now serving as the Vice President for Community Engagement at nearby Duquesne University.
Working to raise $600,000 — HackPGH is ready to expand from “garage” to maker facility — more inviting to a broader public, able to function with greater capacity for production and education. Download the full Renovation Pitch below:
$240,000 to Fund a Green Roof at the Historic Paramount Film Exchange — Saving 70,000+ gallons of water per year from entering the sewer system will cap the renovation of this historic community asset and aid in storm water management that’s vital to this region. Download the full story below:
UPTOWN INNOVATION HUB: A Brief History of the visioning evolution for the Burrell Scientific site and the use of the 6+ acre Uptown Gateway Properties as an innovation hub and academic village. The Vision can jumpstart economic development at the eastern quarter of this long neglected community, help give definition to the Ecoinnovation District, while connecting and encouraging development with Oakland university and life-science partners. At 200+ acres Uptown can extend the boundaries of “downtown” Pittsburgh with scale of building height and density at the west and east portals that most are just not imagining — with a note about AMAZON HQ2. Download the Visioning Doc below:
COVID-19 Protocols: Governor Wolf's business reopening document. It is signed by Dale McNutt reinforcing 5thAVE STUDIO's commitment to safety. There are common things every business must do when reopening in-person locations to play a critical role in protecting workers, customers, suppliers, and the general public. Download below.
Steve Case—RISE OF THE REST TOUR 2014: A piece of StartUptown/5thAVE STUDIO history with 9 company detail pages as presented to Steve Case and the bus-riding crew of Rise of the Rest — an effort to shine a national spotlight on young, high-growth companies outside of Silicon Valley. Download below.
Jeanne and Dale McNutt — Drive Vision to Reality
At the end of May, 2020, Jeanne McNutt retired as executive Director of Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh (UP), after 15 years of community engagement in Uptown, where she lives with her husband, Dale. Leading up to 2007, Jeanne worked alongside a small group of active residents, Duquesne University and Mercy Hospital to form UP, a community benefits and development organization to stabilize and give voice to a distressed corridor neighborhood — one continually overlooked despite its strategic location connecting Downtown and Oakland. With three anchor institutions that attract over three million students, employees, and visitors annually for education, healthcare, sports and entertainment, Uptown had all the right ingredients for successful urban placemaking. After decades of disinvestment, deterioration and demolition, UP, under Jeanne’s leadership and through trusted relationships with the City and forward-thinking funders, Uptown is visibly reawakening with a focus on responsible, equitable and sustainable growth — with well over $880M in investment over the past 10 years and in the pipeline.
Arts and Innovation Lead the Way
Before 1990, as with many underserved neighborhoods, the arts began to take hold in the rough east end of the community. Dale had moved his design firm from Downtown in 1993 to its current location at 1940 Fifth Ave. Photographers Richard Kelly and Paul Selvaggio were already rooted in the building, a former Elks Hall that the McNutts purchased in 2002 for work, and eventually, living. At the same time, Pittsburgh theatre professional Lou Taylor was building movie and TV sets — such as Equal Justice and Monkey Shines — in the 3,600 s.f. ground floor shop, putting some 60 carpenters to work while he lived on the second floor of the building. Arriving from Brazil, artist James Simon set up his live/work studio on Gist St. in 2000, followed shortly after by ceramicist John Fleenor, from Oregon, who purchased a home and studio across the street. John married Helen Perilloux, from Louisiana, at a big 1940 Fifth Ave. studio reception in 2010, and their family grew to four.
Tucked into all this activity, writers, producers and photographers like John Kasunic of Agency 1903/Crows Run Pictures, Craig Thompson and California film effects specialist James Pastorious of Savage VFX, moved into the neighborhood. James and John launched the Gist Street Arts initiative, creating an expansive drive-by gallery of sculptures and colorful framed murals and mosaics, that continues today.
The Gist Street reading series, begun in 2001— directed by writers Sherrie Flick and Nancy Krygowski, with support from real estate entrepreneur Rick Schweikert — was staged in Simon’s artfully textured third floor walk-up on the first Friday night of each month. Sold out at 75 attendees, chances are that 30 more aficionados were turned away at the front door. The series gained a national reputation and enjoyed a successful 10-year-run, attracting hundreds into Uptown for the first time.
The series seeded bold community enthusiasm and awareness that change was possible. Michael Byers, a Seattle native teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, reflected that excitement. “Oh, man, Gist Street is the place you've always wanted to be,” he said, “It's the place you've dreamed about but hadn't known really existed — it's the best crowds you'll ever read to, the best damn time you'll ever have reading.”
Harnessing public art to herald transformation of the community, in 2010 Jeanne raised $40,000 and worked with James Simon to create his bold mosaic “Welcome to Uptown” sign at the portal of Uptown by the Birmingham Bridge…reflecting the community’s creative energy and giving the neighborhood much-needed identity. (Since, Uptown is home to over 22 public artworks.)
In 2007 Dale McNutt saw the potential to bring young entrepreneurs to 1936/1940 Fifth Ave. to further seed community activity, and nonprofit StartUptown was born with support from the Central Pittsburgh Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ), established by Duquesne University as the first KIZ grounded in an underserved neighborhood. Nonprofit Urban Innovation21 provided critical benefits to a diverse range of entrepreneurs in Uptown and the Greater Hill for 10 years, lead by then executive director William Generett, Jr., now Vice President for Community Engagement at Duquesne University.
StartUptown — housing some 80+ entrepreneurs over time — would become Pittsburgh’s first co-working space, which drew attention and visits by numerous local and national tech leaders, including Steve Case, founder and CEO of AOL, supporting entrepreneurship outside of Silicon Valley in his “Rise of the Rest Tour” in 2014. Nationally recognized HackPGH, our first regional makerspace was launched in 2008 by StartUptown resident Nick Pinkston. Still located in the ground floor of the building, the non-profit serves the combined tech/arts interests of 70-plus members and provides the community numerous benefits. Five years later Nick would spearhead a $40M-plus on-demand manufacturing company, Plethora, on the West Coast in 2013, and in 2019 expanded into a 57,000 square foot facility in Marietta, Georgia, increasing its reach across the country.
Increased organized community engagement efforts, such as enhanced public safety, greening, arts and technology all set the stage for renewed interest in neighborhood development. Each major Uptown initiative or building was responsibly vetted and supported by Jeanne and the Uptown Partners board and engaged Uptown residents, businesses and other major stakeholders. When the lights were turned on at the beautifully restored historic 5th Avenue School Lofts in 2012, the $10M project opened the door for three affordable housing projects by Action Housing, followed by Flats on Fifth, Union on Fifth and a stream of market rate development, big and small.
Simply stated, Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh is a “community-based non-profit organization of residents, institutions, and business owners–working together to build a vibrant, sustainable and just community.”
The organization achieves its goals by pursuing an action plan that ensures a clean, safe and green neighborhood; rebuilds a mixed-income population by reclaiming vacant, blighted properties and encourages new residential development; attracts new neighborhood retail and commercial business, while supporting existing business owners; fosters equitable and sustainable development of quality design; and creates an environment where the arts flourish and are integrated into the urban landscape.
Uptown Partners Lays Ground for an Exciting Community
• In 2019, UP formalized design and development review into the Uptown Real Estate and Design Committee (RED) to vet proposed development and ensure compatibility with the community’s vision and neighborhood roadmap—the Uptown EcoInnovation District Plan, the first such community-driven, comprehensive plan, underwritten by, and officially adopted by the City of Pittsburgh in 2017. UP became a Registered Community Organization (RCO) in 2020, recognized by the City for being a “transparent and inclusive organization that has a communication strategy and clear methods of reporting,” to ensure development decisions that best impact those who live and work in Uptown.
• In 2020, the City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning along with its partner organizations received an Excellence in Sustainability, Community Plan award from the American Planning Association’s Sustainable Communities Division for the Uptown EcoInnovation District Plan. The award honors projects, plans, policies, individuals and organizations whose work is dedicated to supporting sustainable communities This replicable process also helped the City and Port Authority of Allegheny County develop a more community-engaged proposal for Bus Rapid Transit on the Fifth and Forbes Avenue corridor. The planning process strengthened partnerships among organizations including Uptown Partners, Duquesne University, UPMC Mercy, PPG Arena, StartUptown/Avenu, numerous other non-profits, such as Green Building Alliance and Sustainable Pittsburgh, Center for Hearing and Deaf Services and City and County agencies.
• These 20+ partnerships formed the Uptown Task Force, currently the governance organization charged with oversite of the EcoInnovation District Plan, convened by Duquesne University. Particularly, to advance projects recommended in the Plan that preserve and strengthen the residential community through enhanced wellbeing and economic growth, create equitable and sustainable housing, complete streets, and green infrastructure. Over the next year, Uptown Partners is poised to become the backbone organization to bolster the collective impact of the Uptown Task Force.
• Also in 2020, Port Authority of Allegheny County secured a $99.95 million U.S. Department of Transportation grant to connect Downtown to Oakland, and beyond. PAAC announced a plan for a $230 million Bus Rapid Transit system in 2017 to connect major city hubs with smart, energy-efficient buses (many electric) in dedicated transit lanes, and enhanced signalization and bus stations to increase access to jobs…and decrease reliance on non-sustainable automobiles.
• In 2019, UPMC broke ground on a first project— part of a $2B regional investment — the state-of-the-art UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Institute, which promises to become a beacon for the next stage of exciting economic and residential development in Uptown. Projected to open in late 2022, it will position UPMC at the global forefront of rehabilitation and ophthalmic research and care. Once constructed, a 410,000 s.f. tower will house nine stories of collaborative space for clinicians, researchers, educators and industry partners… and provide job opportunities for local residents through a community assurance agreement.
• In 2019, Uptown Partners vetted eight new development projects, including 1707 Fifth Avenue, an eco-friendly, mixed-use project of 51 market rate apartments and retail space; the repurposing of 304 Jumonville St, a 68,000 s.f. former laundry plant into a architecturally enhanced tech and warehouse space; and a major mixed-use development project that links Uptown to the Lower Hill at the intersection of Fifth and Dinwiddie Sts. that includes a much-needed plaza, transit station, mixed-income housing and office/tech space — replacing a non-sustainable surface parking lot. Also in the planning stage is eight-story City’s Edge, including 110 apartments of which 70% will be affordable, an onsite parking garage, restaurant, medical and daycare centers, and a meeting space for community needs. (Midpoint Developers plan to break ground by the end of 2020, with completion in 2022.)
• Working with Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Dept. of Public Works, Grow Pittsburgh and Uptown gardeners, UP is facilitating community involvement in the City’s ambitious effort to mitigate the undesirable co-mingling of storm water and sewage and significant overrun in the M-19 Watershed, which includes the MLK Community Garden, bordering Uptown.
• Working with police Zones 2 and 4, Uptown Partners helped reduce total crime by 17.4% from 2018, with a 29.7% drop in Part 1 (most serious) crimes. Since 2009, crime stats were reduced by 6.5% overall. In 2013 launched SafeStreets Uptown, a bi-monthly meeting opportunity for residents, businesses, City officials, and law enforcement to and others to work collaboratively to tackle public safety challenges.
One Window Closes…..Another Opens
Below is an excerpt of the letter Jeanne sent to the Uptown Partners board. It nicely sums up her tenure:
“Five years of volunteering, leading up to my current position, triggered my passion for our distressed, overlooked community, and my fighting spirit to confront those who would thwart the promise of our future. It instilled a community vision that has energized me to engage others in our revitalization, many of whom were residents without a voice. Trusted relationships built in those early days with city government, public service agencies, institutions, and funders have created lasting partnerships that will continue to support us as we grow.
In the early days, with a staff of two, we were focused on enhancing public safety, tackling blight, creating green spaces and community gardens, attracting many transformational public artworks, coordinating regular cleanups, and putting vacant, tax-delinquent properties through the City Property Reserve for a higher use. These efforts elevated the quality of life for those who live and work here, and set the stage for future investment. Where there was scant new development in Uptown in 2010, we have attracted over $880M in investment — from residential projects like Fifth Avenue School Lofts, Flats on Fifth, and Mackey Lofts to institutional investments like UPMC Mercy’s premiere hospital expansion, Duquesne University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, and the Fifth & Dinwiddie mixed-use development project.
Significant projects are on the horizon, including Bus Rapid Transit and extensive streetscape enhancements. (For UP, executing a responsible development review process continues to be essential to ensure compatibility to our neighborhood plan.) Our biggest challenge going forward, however, is to ensure that as our market escalates, we provide housing opportunities for ALL in our community and build financial wellbeing through job training, job creation and business development.
We can be most proud of the City’s selection of Uptown in 2014 to become an EcoInnovation District and its underwriting of our collaborative, grassroots community planning process. Our bold, comprehensive plan is the first to be officially adopted by the City of Pittsburgh.
Clearly, UP needs more capacity to advance this ambitious plan. We are at an exciting point in our organization’s evolution, with an opportunity to take on a more critical role — with additional staff — to implement many of the outstanding goals recommended in the plan.
For a number of reasons, this is the perfect time for me to turn over the reins to another leader. While I am proud of the work we have done together, the new director may have a different set of skills that will serve the future needs of the organization and community. I look forward to working with a board team to make a smooth transition to a new executive director. And to consider, with our partners, what talents and next steps are needed for UP to advance the EID plan in the coming months.
I have enjoyed working with you all. Thank you for your kindness and support over the years.”
Regularly check our website, www.uptownpartners.org and our bi-monthly digital newsletter, UPBeat! for the latest in Uptown development, business growth, programs, events and opportunities.
PHOTO ABOVE: Jeanne McNutt with City Councilman Daniel Lavelle on Grant Street—
Dale McNutt writes about his wife Jeanne and the couple's legacy:
"As ED of Uptown Partners, Jeanne, more often than not, worked seven days a week as she developed relationships to bolster and promote the community as clean, safe, and green — and to help steer the promotion, and early stages of development of her diverse and underserved community."
Nowhere in Pittsburgh sat just 200 acres with the right mix for a successful urban environment — an ideal location and easy-access with the highest performing public transportation system in the region, a diverse and mixed-use neighborhood, and 3 anchor institutions — attracting 3M+ students, employees, and visitors annually.
Dale with nonprofit StartUptown had a vision of Uptown as PITTSBURGH'S NEXT GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD — It could become a richly textured community and it was right-sized ....
.... where living in cool places, and working side-by-side with mixed income and age levels in an environment charged with highly creative businesses, technology, and life-sciences ....
.... alongside the arts/maker culture there was hockey and entertainment at the PPG Paints arena; Duquesne University’s 10,000 students; and the UPMC Mercy medical center campus, now bolstered by the Vision and Rehabilitation Institute. It all CAPTURED THE HALLMARKS OF THRIVING URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS.
Dale says, "Jeanne and I both spent enormous amounts of energy working from our Uptown site. One of my fondest memories — having been up past 2:00 a.m. on the other side of the main floor where I had set up shop alongside the startups — was finding Jeanne curled up in a huge green chair reading a two-inch-thick binder in her home office, “Honey, what are you doing,” I asked ....
.... Well, she was reading about this new transit project called BRT. I asked, “what’s that...” and she proceeded to explain Bus Rapid Transit! She was preparing for a meeting the following day.
Jeanne never went to a meeting unprepared as she learned the procedures of city government from public safety to code enforcement”
That thoroughness and attention to detail earned her the respect of each city office including Councilman Daniel Lavelle and the Mayor. Her 90+ kraft-cover-bound notebooks of meeting notes attest to that (one filled book every 6-weeks! If anyone is counting...)
And she LIVED HERE in the east end of the community, in the midst of the daily human buzz not only of the human traffic of anchor institutions, but of drug dealers and addicts, prostitutes and families who live on less than adequate incomes. I could find her on a Sunday afternoon on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue with her arms around a female addict asking about rehab. Chances are "sobriety" didn't stick... and Jeanne would offer encouragement (she was on a first-name-basis, always) ....
.... or the time she went on a much-needed vacation and gunshots whizzed down Watson Street past HackPGH members one summer evening. We called her and asked, "What should we do?" Well, when she returned the following weekend, she marched to the drug house — only 100 feet from Hack's back garage — knocked on the door where she found dealer Baldy and asked him, "What the f--- is going on?" In the meantime we had attended the bi-monthly SafeStreets Uptown meeting UP had formed, to vent our frustrations.
Undercover detectives, later that week, in a 5:00 a.m. morning raid arrested Baldy for violation of his parole. Jeanne got things done!
In 2020 the McNutts continue to surround themselves with 100-plus youthful “change-makers” — young entrepreneurs, news reporters, makers, designers and product developers — in the 13,000 sf-renovated-site that’s both studio and home in Uptown, a neighborhood of the Greater Hill — where gunshot was not uncommon across Fifth Avenue on Deraud Street, when they took up residence in 2007. Soho Invention, Dale’s design group, had re-calibrated itself here in 1993 with studio offices after ten years in downtown Pittsburgh’s First Side. Jeanne also worked for the company from 2002 to 2006 at the Uptown site before they shuttered the business in October 2006.
It was the birthplace of entrepreneurial COWORKING and MAKING, both barely in the region's vocabulary — in 2007 the doors were opened as Pittsburgh’s first co-working space — the first lease signed that July was Näkturnal whose mission was the business of creating a better world where companies, non-profits, artists, musicians, and activists achieve what they want and deserve — a stage, an open mind, or an opportunity.
Founders Leigh Yock, Kellee Maize, Kate Gittings, with Lani Redinger and 12 female university interns would meet on a Wednesday night in the middle of the main studio floor at a makeshift conference table. I remember thinking, "What's not to like about this!" The young women and Jeanne bonded as she battled breast cancer that year (successfully), and our new entrepreneurial adventure began.
We would move our residence from Oakland to the site in October of 2007. We prepared by adding color to Dale's former business space and realized we'd be sharing a simple IKEA galley kitchen with the startups — and we still do, though it has greatly evolved with traditional amenities and two large airpots of La Prima coffee that Dale brews each morning. The studio today is occupied by 32 who also share the courtyard and garden, an oasis of green and color tended lovingly by Jeanne. And the birdsong, too many voices to count!
The following year, in 2008, the region’s first makerspace, HackPGH, was cofounded on the ground floor by our second lease-holder, University of Pittsburgh grad, Nick Pinkston. His company was CloudFab — with a vision to democratize the manufacturing process. Nick was soon to be named a 30 Under 30 entrepreneur by FORBES in 2016, after he had co-formed Plethora, a $30M new manufacturing startup on the west coast in 2013. Plethora recently opened a second technology-driven manufacturing floor in Marietta, Georgia.
In 2010 nonprofit StartUptown was formed, aptly named by Jeanne, with legal help from Duquesne University and encouragement from Bill Generett who ran the PCKIZ Program, and would then form Urban Innovation21. The Pennsylvania Keystone Innovation Program would help attract young companies to the "zone" — since 2009, $4.8M dollars in cash through tax credits have accrued to our PCKIZ zone companies. The McNutt’s site is branded today as 5thAVE Studio.
Urban Innovation21 was one of the first US-based organizations to work under the “inclusive innovation” paradigm, thanks to the leadership provided by William Generett Jr., its Executive Director, now serving as the Vice President for Community Engagement at nearby Duquesne University.
Up and coming Pittsburgh community Lawrenceville had grown to become less affordable and criticized as gentrifying — fittingly Leigh Yock (despite having help propel "SPIRIT" as a hub of community activity and cutting edge music entertainment at the far end of Butler Street) — looking for a new frontier, purchased and renovated a house on Forbes Avenue in Uptown nearby the McNutts.
She and Tom Brown reside there and continue with capable hands to build on site assets, while Leigh has taken a position on the UP Board.
It had been12-years since her lease at 5thAVE. Leigh felt — as the McNutts had — that Uptown has potential to be PITTSBURGH'S NEXT GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD, and she just had to be here!
StartUptown, PA nonprofit and Federal 501c3, was born in January 2010. Throughout 2007-2009 the 1936 Fifth Avenue site had birthed co-working office space in Pittsburgh, and supported maker-space HackPGH as it opened on the ground floor.
Both endeavors brought a flurry of creative activity into Uptown and promoted the importance of an ent
StartUptown, PA nonprofit and Federal 501c3, was born in January 2010. Throughout 2007-2009 the 1936 Fifth Avenue site had birthed co-working office space in Pittsburgh, and supported maker-space HackPGH as it opened on the ground floor.
Both endeavors brought a flurry of creative activity into Uptown and promoted the importance of an entrepreneurial/maker culture at the city core, and its potential to enliven transitional urban neighborhoods.
Throughout its 13-year history the site has hosted 89 companies from arts to robotics; granola-making using spices to replace sugar content, to documentary filmmakers exposing the complexities of Native American adoption in Blood Memory; medical devices, to urban clothing company DailyBreadPA ( photo above) — data analytics to visual search. NoWait (a restaurant-wait app) grew from 4 to 22 employees in the main studio/loft, then to 60 at Revv Oakland. It sold to Yelp for $40M in 2017.
StartUptown with Alexander Denmarsh, Denmarsh Studios, with architects Thoughtful Balance developed the historic Paramount Film Exchange that opened in 2014, now host to Forest Devices (enabling faster triage for stroke patients), Birdbrain Technologies (robotics and STEM educational products), and award-winning TrademarkVision, voted best AI Business Startup in 2017 by the AIconics.
StartUptown merged with Revv Oakland in early 2017, and formed Avenu — Revv Oakland with StartUptown, created a campus of 7 entrepreneurial work sites and 48 companies employing 200+ from Uptown through Oakland. $3.7M+ in PA Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) benefits had been awarded to Avenu companies over the past 10 years in the form of grants, paid internships, and PA tax credits. Three sites were single offices: Yelp/NoWait, StitchFix, and Containership — all rising to the top of their game in diverse businesses that improve customer experience, assist in personal style choices, and link corporate “cloud” systems.
The original site at 1936 Fifth Avenue was pulled from the Avenu portfolio on June 1, 2018, by Dale McNutt, who formed 5thAVE STUDIO — host to HackPGH, two live-work companies, a medical device company, and 8 other startups or coworking teams. Our newest live-work or work companies are hair salon startup Moxy Chop Studio, Apollo Neuroscience, and newly formed in January 2020, Innovative Public Service.
MORE WAYS TO PARTICIPATE:
Connect with our vision for an UPTOWN INNOVATION HUB: A Brief History of the visioning evolution for the Burrell Scientific site and the use of the full 6+ acre Uptown Gateway Properties as an innovation hub and academic village. This vision jumpstarts economic development at the eastern quarter of this long neglected community, helps give definition to the Ecoinnovation District, while connecting and encouraging development with Oakland university and life-science partners. At 200+ acres Uptown can extend the boundaries of “downtown” Pittsburgh with scale of building height and density at the west and east portals that most are just not imagining — clustered around a vibrant residential core. An addendum note about AMAZON HQ2 adds a bit of spice to the concept. Download the Visioning Doc here:
Our Pitch for $240,000 to Fund a Green Roof at the Historic Paramount Film Exchange — Saving 70,000+ gallons of water per year from entering the sewer system will cap the renovation of this historic community asset and aid in storm water management that’s vital to this region. Download the full story here:
Working to raise $600,000 — HackPGH is ready to expand from “garage” to maker facility — more inviting to a broader public, able to function with greater capacity for production and education. Download the full Renovation Pitch here:
Nakturnal LLC, signed the first lease with the 5th Avenue site in July 2007. Leigh Yock (above) and her team provided socially innovative event production, sponsorship and marketing services for arts and entertainment organizations. Female owned and staffed, they asked to rent space on the big studio loft during their coordination of the
Nakturnal LLC, signed the first lease with the 5th Avenue site in July 2007. Leigh Yock (above) and her team provided socially innovative event production, sponsorship and marketing services for arts and entertainment organizations. Female owned and staffed, they asked to rent space on the big studio loft during their coordination of the Uptown community’s first Sprout Fund mural.
"Nak" was four principals, and up to 12 interns each college semester. At the Wednesday night meeting were 16 females, all but one under 30 years of age — the site was baptized in a co-working feminine aura and work hours that often extended until well after midnight. Nakturnal remains active.
More recently Leigh partnered with Tom Barr, and Jeff Ryanto to operate Spirit Hall, an event space in Lawrenceville garnering a national reputation — in a former Moose Lodge, Spirit brings the community-driven ethos to a different generation through programming that entertains and inspires creativity throughout a broad population of artists, musicians, and writers. Coming full-circle, over the past three years, Leigh and her partner renovated and settled into an Uptown house on Forbes Avenue and now serves on the Uptown Partners Board.
Below are just a few mini-histories of the 90+ companies who have inhabited StartUptown, Avenu, now 5thAVE STUDIO, at 1936 Fifth Avenue and the Paramount Film Exchange.
— TrademarkVision, Sandra Mau—Visual search tailored for brand protection. Winner AIconics Best AI Startup 2017. Operating at Paramount/Avenu. Acquired by US-based Clarivate Analytics. Active.
— Birdbrain Technologies, Tom Lauwers— Robotics and STEM educational products. Operating at Paramount/Avenu until June 2020. Active off site.
— Forest Devices, CEO Matt Kesinger: creators of ALPHASTROKE, enabling faster triage, moving stroke patients to the appropriate level of care earlier. Operating at Paramount/Avenu. Active.
— CerebroScope, led by Stephen Jones—design, build, validate non-invasive detection system for secondary brain injury. Device prototype to validation trials. Active on site.
— Team Phenomenal Hope, previously led by resident Chris Field—TeamPH promotes ultra-endurance sports as a platform to educate and promote the need for a cure for pulmonary hypertension (PH). Active off-site.
— Webkite, New CEO Mark Heckmann, grew monthly recurring revenues by 600% in 5 months—technology that lowers your advertising cost-per-click, increases your click-through-rate, and drives conversions. Inactive.
— NoWait, Robb Myer, James Belt, Richard Colvin, Luke Panza—The innovative restaurant wait list. Acquired by Yelp.
— IC Bioethics, CEO and Founder Kathy Gennuso—nailed a major contract in April 2017—LECOM their client of three years and the largest medical school in the USA, asked them to develop, run, and administer, a new Masters of Science in Biomedical Ethics. Active.
— In Medias Res, LLC (IMR), Drew Nicholas and others—nears completion of their film documentary, Blood Memory, revealing the untold history of Native American Adoption. Release in late 2018. Funded by PBC, FilmNorth and Vision Maker Media. Active.
— Public Herald (PH), Joshua Pribanic, Melissa Troutman—a new model of investigative journalism in the public interest—stories that challenge our conventional views of economy, human rights and Democracy. Active.
— Allpoint Systems, Aaron Morris+/developer of software and solutions for collecting and processing LiDAR (laser) point cloud data. Acquired/Autodesk in 2013. The Allpoint Systems team and technology will help Autodesk expand the development of cloud-based reality capture software and solutions.
Give ordinary people the right tools, and they will design and build the most extraordinary things. — MIT MediaLab
By October, 2007, 20-year-old University of Pittsburgh entrepreneur Nick Pinkston — building Cloudfab, to jump-start the new decentralized manufacturing revolution — rented the remainder of the 5th Avenue loft space wit
Give ordinary people the right tools, and they will design and build the most extraordinary things. — MIT MediaLab
By October, 2007, 20-year-old University of Pittsburgh entrepreneur Nick Pinkston — building Cloudfab, to jump-start the new decentralized manufacturing revolution — rented the remainder of the 5th Avenue loft space with Nakturnal through an ad posted on Craigslist. Nick also co-founded HackPGH, a tech-based educational collaborative and maker’s space, on the building’s ground floor.
Through Nick’s insightful thinking across a wide range of topics, Dale McNutt was motivated to gain perspective about the scope of entrepreneurial activity in Pittsburgh just bubbling under the surface, and its potential to energize his community’s redevelopment.
At the same time (2007-2008) Innovation Works incubator AlphaLab was graduating its first class of startup businesses — and the Keystone Innovation Zone, shepherded by Duquesne University, opened to provide tech startups grant dollars, access to PA tax credits, and paid internships through the four universities in the zone.
As recipient of Maker Faire Detroit Editor’s Choice Award in July 2011, HackPGH garnered a national reputation. On a Friday night, up to 25 gathered for an evening of learning and networking; or for a Thursday evening lecture; or building a project during daily open shop hours.
HackPGH leadership teams have always been dedicated/motivated to excel — many, like Nick, went on to bigger endeavors — selling CloudFab to VistaTek — he founded Plethora, a 40-person, $40M+ funded “factory of the future” in San Francisco, and was voted one of Forbes 30-under-30 in 2016.
Co-founder Matt Stultz is MAKE magazine’s digital fabrication and reviews editor — the bible of the maker-movement. He founded 3DPPVD and Ocean State Maker Mill; others left to work for Brooklyn’s 3D-printer company, MakerBot.
HackPGH, 70+ members strong, celebrated ten years of community engagement in March 2019. Adam Longwill cofounder of MetaMesh Wireless Communities (born within the walls of HackPGH), says: “The tools and technologies that HackPGH provided, allowed us to develop into the successful charity we are today — Meta Mesh now provides low-cost or free public WiFi to thousands of Pittsburgh residents.”
The Maker Movement has significant implications for manufacturing, economic and workforce development, education, healthcare innovation, technology advancements and — in Uptown — community revitalization.
HackPGH provides services that connect Pittsburgh’s manufacturing past to its future — and it provides leadership at the national level (through the Nation of Makers). Locally in 2017, Catalyst Connection (our regional IRS), launched its “Making Your Future” campaign at HackPGH. 75 attendees included County Exec Rich Fitzgerald, Dennis Davin, DCED Secretary, and others, promoted “making” as an avenue to an alternate career path to support regional employee growth in new manufacturing. It’s estimated, in the next 10-years, that 30,000+ new employees will be required.
Working to raise $600,000 — This energetic group is ready to expand from “garage” to maker facility — more inviting to a broader public, able to function with greater capacity for production and education. Download the full Renovation Pitch here:
Talk to Dale McNutt, (412) 400-7154 at 5thAVE STUDIO if you are interested in contributing!
THE COMPLETE LIST OF COMPANIES BROUGHT TO UPTOWN BY DALE MCNUTT:
— in historical sequence from first to most recent in 2020. Descriptions are in-progress.
• 1. Soho and Company, Dale McNutt
• 2. Näkturnal Leigh Yock, Kellee Maize and others
Female owned and operated, this socially innovative events and promotions company connects and supports the underground art, film, fashion and music communities. Näkturnal is in the business of creating a better world where companies, non-profits, artists, musicians, and activists achieve what they want and deserve, whether it’s a stage, an open mind, or an opportunity. Operating in Pittsburgh region. http://www.nakturnal.net/
• 3. Cloudfab, Nick Pinkston
Online access to individualized product fabrication helps jumpstart the new decentralized manufacturing revolution. CloudFab is an online platform that provides distributed manufacturing resources (“fabrication-as-a-service”) for businesses who are creating mass customized goods across various product categories. The CloudFab system also contains tools to facilitate and enhance the quoting, ordering, and manufacturing processes. Acquired in May 2012 by VistaTek — software continues to automate manufacturing and design processes at several companies. Co-founded with Jeremy Herrman, Plethora—building the factory of the future in San Francisco with 88 employees, recently opened a second location in Marrieta, Georgia.
See http://www.plethoralabs.com/ — "I'm passionate about creating value to society by solving real problems. Using tools from startup companies to community events, my goal is to democratize the means of production to allow physical products to be created as easily as an iPhone app."
And in 2019, Volition, "Our mission is to accelerate hardware creation by making tools that increase the speed and performance of engineering and manufacturing processes for mechanical engineers, roboticists, product designers, and more."
• 4. Lechtzer, Harold Lessure
A privately held Corporation founded by Dr. Harold Lessure in 2007 to develop new automated optical and electronic devices for a variety of markets but particularly the development of specific high sensitivity sensing, detection and monitoring systems — currently helping to commercialize Optical Gas Detection technologies developed under sponsorship of Natural Gas Utilities (NGUs) through the Operations Technology Development, NFP and the Gas Technology Institute (GTI) formerly the Gas Research Institute. This follows more than 25 years of Optics and Applied Physics R&D for Aerospace, Defense, Energy, Medical and Industrial applications. http://lechtzer.com/wp/ Active.
• 5. HackPGH Membership-driven, this maker space has garnered a national reputation. An educational, nonprofit technology collaborative—it’s a part of the swell of interest in do-it-yourself projects and and the DIY culture. https://hackpgh.org/
• 6. CSG Interactive
Greg DiMedio—Online marketing, SEO, website development and implementation. Merged with Group16.
• 7. Skill-Life
Felix Brandon Lloyd—Online learning tools for children, began as CentsCity, building financially healthy youth and families. Acquired by BancVue, Ltd. in 2010. Felix is now Cofounder of Zoobean, which provides provides software to help libraries and schools better engage families and facilitate reading programs for their community.
• 8. Eveos
Co-Founder, Chairman, Steven Radney. Eveos was a wellness company offering better living through better sleep—with the belief that successful chronic OSA management must balance both standard and behavioral therapies. Steven went on to Co-Found VitalClip, building tools to make it easy for you to measure and gain invaluable insights about your health. Presently he is a Sr. Producer at Lowe's Innovation Labs. Eveos and VitalClip are inactive.
• 9. Allpoint Systems
Enhanced solutions for 3D scanning, visualizing, measuring, processing, modeling and mapbuilding from point cloud data in a fraction of the time it takes traditional methodologies. Proprietary software acquired by Autodesk. Autodesk will integrate the Allpoint technology into its Reality Capture Group, which will further expand its capability in creating digital models of physical objects and spaces.
• 10. Fooala
David Chen, Todd Eichel, Zachary Cancio, and others—Instant online ordering for restaurants. At the heart of Fooala is a robust transaction network that provides convergence of consumer-facing e-commerce interfaces to restaurant point-of-sale systems through a common interface. Inactive.
• 11. DeviceKnit
John Ganotis and Jordan Messina—a cookbook for gadgets, it's a consumer electronics content and community site focused on helping people discover new uses and connection options for their electronic devices. Inactive
• 12. Careerimp
Ayan Kishore and Mona Abdel-Halim and others—is an online community for matching job seekers to employment opportunities with greater satisfaction and intelligence. Their Resunate product revolutionizes resume submission for optimum employer response. Acquired by Chicago-based Professional Diversity Network in 2012.
• 13. Communiteach
cultivates vibrant learning communities based on the idea that we all have something to teach, and that teaching and learning are intrinsically worthwhile experiences. Non-profit engages individuals online; for-profit corporate component (employees teaching employees) finances both. Inactive.
• 14. NoWait
• 15. Strategic Development
With a base of private for profit, non-profit, and government clients that provides synergistic benefits to each client group, SD services scale and accelerate commercialization, deploying university, government, organized labor, NGO’s and business partners to achieve speed to market outcomes.
• 16. One Water
Project-based, non-profit development hub that provides a platform for coordinating partnerships between government, universities, industry and non-profits to form a center of future sustainable water expertise.
• 17. Embedded Energy Technology
Jeff Mishler—wireless sensing for commercial and industrial clients. Acquired/Thermaxx
• 18. Hydro4GE
Custom software tools; website development, and interactive marketing; Pario, a web-based rapid application development environment — creates, deploys, and maintains online database applications. http://www.hydro4ge.com/
• 19. Institute of Consultative Bioethics
• 20. Trinculo's Attic
Embedded, easily-programmable technology for the theatre production industry.
• 21. Savage VFX
High quality visual effects for film, television and commercials — for Hollywood’s top companies: Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony, Disney, HBO and ABC. (at 1905 Blvd. of the Allies) http://pa.savagevisualeffects.com/
• 22. Rubitection
Making a meaninful impact on healthcare—the next standard tool for early bedsore assessment. http://www.rubitection.com/
• 23. Unabridged Press
Journalistic multimedia empowers local journalists, photographers, and videographers to capture a community’s unsung stories. Website will launch shortly. NEW: developing capacity and strategy.
• 24. Powered Analytics
Collin Otis—a predictive analytics platform, turning existing data into a customized predictive model that plugs into existing applications. Acquired/Target Corp.
• 25. Web Communications Group
Builds, develops, and markets websites; writes and posts original content; implements social media — with a focus on internship to bring technical knowledge to young adults and teens in underserved communities.
• 26. Planet Earth Television
Bringing corporate sponsors into partnerships with worthwhile causes through high impact media projects — recently, a pilot program for public television, called SCIENTASTIC! — awakening elementary school kids to the wonders of science.
• 27. Covalent
Compelling video production communicates your unique story. With a focus on both established businesses and the startup community. NEW: developing capacity and strategy while working with clients.
• 28. Breakpoints
Aggregating consumers for bulk purchasing power — a revolutionary approach to the online shopping platform.
• 29. Because
Shaping global social discourse and employee creativity in the workplace — to have a higher impact on individuals and organizations around the world — a plugin for content providers looking to build a community around their content.
• 30. Environmental Monitoring Technologies
Manufactures the PROWLER — a specialized early gas leak detection system designed for underground piping systems. Its vapor sensitive tubing (VST) has the capability of monitoring very small gas leaks in the presence of water and accurately locating the source of the leak. Active.
• 31. Nearby Initiatives
• 32. Frontier Research
• 33. Zubrow, Mary Zubrow
• 34. Collected
Steve Cotter, Founder and CEO—delivers contextually-relevant content from documents and presentations in your cloud storage accounts as you type. Inactive.
• 35. Thrive Production
• 36. Turnkey Taxes
• 37. SANE Technology
• 38. In Medias Res
• 39. Student Intuition
• 40. Fort Pitt Web Shop
• 41. Avyayah Technologies
• 42. Flikbak
• 43. Birdbrain Technologies
• 44. The Libertus Project
• 45. Ristcall
• 46. 5-Stone Learning
• 47. Pixure Book Publishing
• 48. AutoMap
• 49. Mirappcle/Jignesh Patel
• 50. Occam Institute/Occam Resolutions
• 51. Team Phenomenal Hope
• 52. Shtrands
• 53. Robert Blackwell
• 54. Blue Frog Building Performance/Geoff Zawacki
• 55. Hugh Murphy
• 56. Invenium Capital Partners
• 57. Abundance Foods
• 58. Ezra Digital
• 59. Illumuminato Group
• 60. Stormdogs Studio
• 61. Carlos J. Queirós, writer
• 62. Cerebroscope
• 63. Forest Devices
• 64. Foundry Green Homes
• 65. Ben People's Industries
• 66. Daily Bread PA
• 67. Foodee
• 68. Retro Holdings Group, Jayson Niba
• 69. Disruption Hawks
• 70. International Society of Sustainability Professionals
• 71. Community Catalyst
• 72. CallerReady
• 73. SRVD
• 74. Balfour
• 75. SLYA PGH
• 76. Moxie Chop Studio
• 77. Apollo Neuroscience
• 78. Simple Origin
• 79. Outcome Studio/Healthy Funnel
• 80. Public Source
• 81. Joseph S. Hornack Law Offices
• 82. Elite Alloy Concepts
• 83. Shoko Designs
• 84. Innovative Public Safety
AT THE PARAMOUNT FILM EXCHANGE
— in historical sequence from first to most recent in 2018
• Webkite (Moved to 5th Avenue site)
• 85. Renovacare
• 86. Innovesca (Moved from 5th Avenue site)
Mary Beth Wilson, Founder—seeks to impact global nutrition through food innovation by transforming underutilized nutrient-dense plants into value-added ingredients. Inactive.
• 87. Workdesq and Boma Pittsburgh (Moved to 5th Avenue site)
• 88. Metafit Solutions (Moved to 5th Avenue site)
• 89. Imagine Careers (Student Intuition)
Mark Heckmann, CEO, Eric Harvey, CTO and others—a hybrid software and services talent agency for professionals in technology and business. The mission is to develop and guide top talent to discover and connect to great careers. Inactive.
• 90. Small Farm Central
• 91. OLMEC Development
• 92. Amani Christian Development Corp
• Community Catalyst (Moved to 5th Avenue site)
• 93. Truly Accomplished
• 94. Public Herald
• 95. ISA – Interactive Story Adventures
• 96. Builder Code Works and Code And Supply
• 97. Denny Civic Solutions
• 98. Cummings Law Practice
• SRVD (Moved to 5th Avenue site)
• 99. TrademarkVision
• 100. Brian Connor
• 101. Birdbrain Technologies (Moved from 5th Avenue site)
• 102. Topscore
• Callerready+ (Moved to 5th Avenue site)
PHOTO ABOVE: Rise of the Rest Road Tour with Steve Case. Here Steve talks with Robb Myer of NoWait, StartUptown resident. Standing by is Eric Silver, founder of Webkite, whose team would move into the Paramount Film Exchange in Uptown, and others, at the StartUptown main studio in Uptown.
June 19, 2014, PITTSBURGH — (BUSINESS WIRE) "In cities across America, we are witnessing a “Rise of the ‘Entrepreneurial’ Rest.” To celebrate the changing landscape of our entrepreneurial economy, Steve Case is spearheading the Rise of the Rest Road Tour, which will stop in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, June 25th. Members of the media were invited to join a press event, with availability of local and national entrepreneurs and civic leaders to discuss trends bolstering Pittsburgh’s startup economy, and the efforts to shine a national spotlight on young, high-growth companies outside of Silicon Valley."
2014: Robb Myer is the President and Chief Product Officer of NoWait, the first and only mobile network for casual-dining restaurants, which he founded in 2010. Since launching the company, NoWait has grown from seating 700,000 guests every month to 5 million, and more than 50 million overall. In early 2014, NoWait launched its consumer-facing guest app, which is now available at casual-dining restaurants in all 50 states and in every major metropolitan area across the country.
Outside of the office, Robb is a frequent speaker at Carnegie Mellon University, his alma mater, and an active advisor to emerging start-ups at AlphaLab and Startup Weekend. He also has authored two patent-pending innovations for his product developments at NoWait. A highly sought-after industry expert, he has been interviewed for Entrepreneur Magazine, Bloomberg, Fox News and NPR.
March 1, 2017: YELP acquired restaurant reservation app Nowait for $40 million, in an all-cash deal.
In October 2014, StartUptown (SU) announced the Grand Opening of its new location for Coworking-Plus at the Paramount Film Exchange (PFEX) — and the new studio and offices of Denmarsh Photography. PFEX was Paramount Pictures first link to the Pittsburgh region at 544 Miltenberger Street in Uptown.
It was the first opportunity to create “campus” in Uptown, SU brings 6-plus companies and 60-plus jobs to the historic site. With over 8,000 sf, this adaptive-reuse collaboration uniquely combines business innovation; entrepreneurial references from the film industry and poster art; a public film series developed by SU film-making resident In Medias Res; and a diverse food program open to the community and SU residents.
StartUptown and Denmarsh Photography delivered an Oscar-worthy, red-carpet party on Thursday, October 2, 2014 to help celebrate this unique project with our funders, corporate sponsors, and the Pittsburgh entrepreneurial tech, social, maker, arts, film and historic preservation communities — along with SU resident startups and regional community change agents.
Built in 1926 by R.E. Hall Architects, the Paramount is the original remainder of a once extensive Film Row that existed on Uptown’s Bluff through the late 1960s. Through the efforts of the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh (YPA), the Pittsburgh Historic Review Commission voted to recommend historic designation of the Paramount site in September 2009. Film Row provided an important distribution network for iconic film studios to reach neighborhood theaters throughout the Pittsburgh region. Early filmmaking was the high-tech darling of its day and Paramount Pictures lead the evolution of national and global film distribution.
This project reflects the extraordinary opportunity that SU has, working alongside community partners, to enhance economic development in Uptown. The new Paramount site once again hosts the innovative businesses of our day.
The Paramount site will expand StartUptown’s Coworking-Plus footprint by 6,400 sf on two floors, and will lease to mid-tier startups and others — the site also provides photographer Alexander Denmarsh with 1,800+ sf of studio and office space. CEO Eric Silver of Webkite moved his top-tier company of 22 to the second floor July 14, 2014 with room to expand to 30-plus employees. Corporate partner Franklin Interiors provided pro-bono design and planning services, and with Steelcase provided furnishings at a deep discount. Furnishings arrived for the first floor on August 26th and the first startup residents move in throughout September and October. Forty museum-mounted posters and framed originals with accompanying texts highlight entrepreneurs from Paramount’s film history and the films distributed from the Uptown site.
Architect Laura Nettleton, Owner and Principal, Thoughtful Balance, says,“Though the project is not LEED certified, the team was able to implement a number of green strategies including the reuse of a wonderful palette of existing materials. By insulating the existing masonry shell and installing triple-glazed windows in the existing large openings, we improved both energy efficiency and indoor sound and comfort quality. By exposing existing skylights and maintaining an open floor plan the interior spaces are flooded by natural daylight and supplemented by LED lighting which highlight original wood trim and exposed steel structure.” Her team coordinated the efforts of grant funding for the interiors, a URA facade grant, and private money in order to finish the project on an extremely modest budget. Construction Cost: $108/sf (core and shell).
At the intersection of innovation and neighborhood development, SU seeks to reinvigorate traditional community development models — not only do we utilize startup, maker, arts and co-working cultures as our tools for community economic development, but we also seek to reinvent the community by an approach that emphasizes both people and place.
The PFEX-StartUptown Plan received support from the State of PA’s Department of Community and Economic Development, support from State Senator Wayne Fontana, the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, the Office of the Mayor, City of Pittsburgh, and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. At the outset, Bernie Lynch of Strategic Development Solutions helped coordinate public-private partnerships. Later, Dollar Bank with Assistant Vice President Commercial Real Estate Lending & Services, Matt Bright, stepped forward to help coordinate the entire construction effort with Alexander and SU.
The URA stepped up a second time to provide StartUptown low interest capital with an early interest only payment schedule to give us a last push at being successful over the first year of our lease. Corporate Sponsor Allegheny Financial provided additional capital to complete interior fit-out.
FINANCING AND CONSTRUCTION
The Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh (YPA) had nominated the site to be a City of Pittsburgh Historic Landmark in April 2009 — The Historic Review Commission voted to recommend historic designation of the film exchange in September 2009. Schweikert’s initial investor group pledged their time and dollars to stabilize and publicize the Paramount. Rick Schweikert, entrepreneur and real estate agent, led an ownership group to buy the long-neglected property from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 2010 to save it from demolition. Instead of a direct property acquisition, Denmarsh bought the company that owned the property in 2011 to avoid disrupting ongoing negotiations for leases and grants. “The value of the deal was largely at cost,” says Alexander.
PROJECT TITLE: PFEX-StartUptown Redevelopment Plan
• $250,000 -- CITF Grant, Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County
• $250,000 -- URA, loan to Alexander Denmarsh
• $250,000 -- Dollar Bank, loan to Alexander Denmarsh
• $125,000 -- URA, loan to StartUptown
• $325,000 -- Includes cash by Alexander Denmarsh plus his purchase price, plus previous purchase from UPMC by Rick Schweikert (PFEX), and PFEX investment made to stabilize site before Alexander's purchase.
• 1.2M total.
In 2018, a merger with Revv Oakland produced AVENU/Pittsburgh Innovation District. AVENU now operates the 6,000 sf of workspace at the Paramount.
For leasing opportunities contact: https://www.avenu-pgh.org/
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