Whatever You Need, You Can Find It in the Strip

If you can’t find something in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, you really should question whether you need it at all. What was once largely a neighborhood of mills and factories, then wholesale warehouses (convenient to both the river and railroad), the Strip District has found new life in recent years, with former warehouses now serving as specialty boutiques, art studios, restaurants, and small grocers. Some of the best shopping, eating, and sightseeing in the Burgh can be found along this roughly half square mile neighborhood between the Allegheny River and Liberty Avenue.

Arrive early for the best parking options and start your visit with the most delicious breakfast in town. I’m partial to Pamela’s (try the chocolate chip banana hotcakes, you won’t be sorry) or Kelly O’s (offering a Pittsburgh version of eggs benedict—with pierogies and Kielbasa), but you can’t go wrong with Café Raymond or DeLuca’s, either. Only want coffee? Stop at Prestogeorge Coffee & Tea, La Prima Espresso Company, or Allegheny Coffee & Tea Exchange for a freshly brewed cup (and be sure to treat yourself to a biscotti or macaroon from Enrico Biscotti Co.).
If you’re coming for groceries (and really, you should be), bring your cooler bags, because you can’t beat the selection, or the quality. Fresh fish from Wholey’s, a Pittsburgh institution. Asian staples from Lotus Food Company (or, at the other end of the Strip, the also excellent WFH Oriental Food Market). Spices from Penzey’s. The tortillas at Reyna Foods are not to be missed—if you’re lucky, they may even still be warm. Sample imported cheeses from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company and take home your favorites. Grab some of the city’s best bread and pepperoni rolls from Mancini’s. Stop at Mon Aimee Chocolat for fabulous gourmet chocolates, and experience the same joy Charlie felt entering Wonka’s factory when you walk through the doors at Grandpa Joe’s.
And that’s only a small fraction of what’s available.
If you’re not too full from snacking on your purchases, stop for lunch at the Smallman Galley, a restaurant incubator featuring four up-and-coming restaurants that change periodically. Relative newcomer Gaucho Parrilla Argentina has proven a popular lunch spot as well, as has family-owned Italian restaurant DiAnoia’s Eatery .
After lunch, those who want to explore non-grocery options have many from which to chose. The Heinz History Center—“the Smithsonian’s home in Pittsburgh”—is a stellar museum in a city known for its exceptional ones—be sure to stop in to get your pickle pin. Or pick up a Steelers shirt from Yinzers, bourbon from Wigle Whiskey, a one-of-a-kind serving bowl from Penn Avenue Pottery, or a gorgeous wreath from Roxanne’s Dried Flowers.
Most of the shops listed above are located on either Smallman Street or Penn Avenue, between 16th and 25th Streets, but if you don’t mind a bit of a walk, favorites like Eide’s Entertainment for comic books and LPs (on Penn near 11th), Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor (on the other end of the Strip, on Penn near 28th), and Salonika Greek Imports (Smallman and 35th, near Lawrenceville) are not to be missed.
For dinner in the Strip, my personal favorites are Big Burrito’s acclaimed Caribbean-inspired Kaya (don’t miss their happy hour), and Penn Avenue Fish Company.
Be aware that many stores keep only daytime hours (most restaurants are open later), and often close early on Sundays. Saturdays can be particularly busy, making parking tough to find, so come early. Some restaurants are closed Mondays.
Expect some areas to be under construction—it’s necessary in what executive director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Robert Rubinstein, calls the fastest growing neighborhood in the city. The Produce Terminal, a 1920s art deco building that runs along Smallman from 16th to 21st, is one area currently being renovated as part of the Strip District’s ever-evolving nature. When complete, the building will have restaurants and shops (including a market) on the first floor, offices on the upper floors, and will offer parking.
One highly-anticipated construction project is the 21-story glass office tower slated to replace the New Federal Cold Storage Building—the now-empty cement warehouse known for its prominent display of the smiling neon Wholey fish. CBRE, the brokerage firm that will lease the property, has recently begun promoting the project.

If you’re fortunate enough to work in downtown Pittsburgh, the Strip is only a short walk away, and businesses are increasingly recognizing the charms of the area. Both Oxford Realty Services, one of southwestern Pennsylvania’s leading commercial real estate providers, and Serendipity Labs, a nationwide coworking and office space, recently opened locations in the Strip, at 3 Crossings, a 16-acre mixed-use development overlooking the Allegheny River. The location provides easy access to all of the Strip’s excellent restaurants and shops, as well as convenient parking (for cars, bikes, and even kayaks) and access to the Three Rivers Heritage Trail.
If you’re planning a trip into Pittsburgh, you’ll be glad to know that the Strip is home to several hotels, including a Homewood Suites, a Hampton Inn & Suites, and an AC Hotel.
Whether you’re new to town or simply a Pittsburgher who hasn’t made a trip to the Strip in a while, it’s worth a stop on a sunny day—or even one of Pittsburgh’s more typically overcast ones. Between the energy and bustle surrounding the neighborhood and its gorgeous view of downtown, it’s a place to lift the hearts of even the most curmudgeonly.
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I know, I know—I missed your favorite place in the Strip! Please post and tell me (and everyone else!) about it. I can’t wait to try it!

Written by: Kim Pierson
for CoeoSpace

What Constitutes Community in Coworking? Providing a Comfortable, Supportive Environment

Ask any of your friends who cowork—one of the biggest benefits of the experience is the sense of community it provides, giving those without a traditional office the opportunity to toss around ideas and socialize in a comfortable, supportive environment. Members can network, sip coffee, and perhaps even play a little pool, all while finishing that big work project.

By providing this sense of community, coworking enhances its members’ opportunities for success in a way that working from home or a lonely hotel room—or even the neighborhood coffee shop—simply cannot.

So what happens when your coworking space fails to offer the comfortable, supportive community you were hoping to find?

Some coworking spaces have been accused of feeling more like an old boys’ club than a community, appealing to and used predominantly by white, middle-class men. Intentionally or not, such places can feel significantly less welcoming to women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, and people in other marginalized groups.

To offer women the opportunity for a coworking room of their own, providing them with the kind of “safe, affirming professional network” many had been unable to find at other coworking spaces, in 2016, Lauren Kassan and Audrey Gelman opened The Wing in the Flatiron District of New York City. With luxury beauty products filling its bathrooms, color-coded, woman-authored books lining its walls, impeccable lighting flooding its lobby—even its own review from Architectural Digest—this “workspace with community-building at its core” is part coworking space, part throwback to the women’s clubs of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

More than simply a space for everyone from freelancer to professional to CEO to work and network, The Wing is a place for social activism, offering chartered buses to feminist rallies and bringing in speakers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Hillary Clinton. There are panel discussions, performances, in-house cafés, even a cupcake decorating class. But the backbone of all of it is the work, and the inspiration and networking that can come from being surrounded by a group of people you are comfortable with. As Gelman put it, “Women set more ambitious life goals for themselves in the company of other women.”

It’s the kind of space women need to stay competitive, particularly when traditional social clubs and networks have been unavailable or unwelcoming. As Anna North and Chavie Lieber report in their thought-provoking article for Vox :

“It’s the same reason why men join golf clubs,” Cadran Cowansage [creator of Leap, a social network for women in tech] said, “There’s so much more to business than what happens in an office. It’s the sharing of insight, advice, and connections that really supports people behind the scenes and helps propel them in their careers. In a male-dominated workplace, women tend to be excluded from those experiences.”

All that being said, how can a space focused on meeting the needs of a historically marginalized part of the population, a space where even the phone booths are named for female heroes, both real and fictional (Anita Hill, Ramona Quimby, Lieutenant Uhura, Lisa Simpson), be wrong?

The Wing has come under fire for not being inclusive enough, allegedly denying access to potential patrons both directly and implicitly. On the direct side, the Wing has been sued by at least one man, who alleged gender discrimination based on the fact that The Wing did not, at that time, accept male applicants. In addition, the organization’s initial policy not to accept men was investigated by the New York City Commission of Human Rights, on the grounds that it may violate the New York City Human Rights Law, which “prohibits discrimination in New York City.” (The investigation is now closed.)

The Wing has since that time changed its membership policy with the goal of increasing inclusivity, particularly to transgender people and those beyond the gender binary. Applicants are now evaluated based on their “commitment to The Wing’s mission of the advancement of women through community. Members and guests are welcome at The Wing regardless of their perceived gender or gender identity.” (Accordingly, men are now seen on The Wing premises, with some women finding that it is changing the atmosphere.)

While such policy changes may help The Wing with further challenges based on perceived gender discrimination, they fail to address the concerns of a second group of critics, those who allege that The Wing implicitly denies access to the type of women who most need the opportunities offered by the organization. Such allegations focus on the fact that The Wing requires potential patrons to fill out an application to join, and, if an applicant is accepted, charges a fee of over $200 a month for membership (although notably, this fee is similar to or even less than the cost of many other coworking spaces, including WeWork—an investor). By doing so, critics contend, The Wing has created an organization that is out of reach for many women. As Kaitlyn Borysiewicz, cofounder of The Melanin Collective, put it, The Wing seeks to celebrate “a certain type of woman.

Not Everywoman.

Linda Kinstler capably sums up this concern in The Guardian:

The attention The Wing generates is, in large part, because it was founded upon a paradox: its brand is steeped in the feminist language of emancipation, empowerment and equality, while its business is based on one of society’s most elitist institutions: the private members’ club.

Similarly, in an article discussing not only the sense of community in The Wing, but in comparable coworking spaces such as Spring Place, NeueHouse, Soho House, and The Assemblage, Jessica Pressler provides, “You can almost forget that they’re private clubs, which by definition exist to be selective or, as sociologist Diana Kendall points out in her book Members Only, to accrue social capital ‘that is unavailable to outsiders.’”

While The Wing has a fulltime team devoted to diversity and inclusion—and offers one-year scholarships for those who can’t afford its membership (approximately 7% of members are on scholarship)—many, like Borysiewicz, are saying this is not enough. In “Washington Post, We Have a New Title: Is ‘The Wing’ Too White for Women of Color?” (a response to a Washington Post article on The Wing’s Georgetown opening), Borysiewicz notes that “through its exclusive memberships and its misguided use of history, The Wing does a pretty solid job of reestablishing ingroups and outgroups.

 Others agree, and have taken steps to build a space of their own. When Najla Austin couldn’t find a social club/coworking location that fit with her own sense of community, she chose to open her own space. Ethel’s Club, “the first private social and wellness club designed with people of colour in mind”, recently opened in Brooklyn. The website describes it as providing “cozy lounge areas, quiet workspaces, a wellness room, on-site therapy consultations, a rotating calendar of chefs, phone booths and more.”

“The Wing,” Austin told Kinstler, “was created for a certain type of woman, which, from my point of view, is not for me.” That said, Austin has also noted that she admires what the women behind the Wing have accomplished.

Other people have echoed Austin’s desire for a space like The Wing, but one which they feel truly fits them. The notion that The Wing might not be able to provide the kind of safe, affirming workspace they are looking for has grown since a racial incident last May at The Wing’s West Hollywood location. The incident, which involved the threatening confrontation of a member and her guest, both Black women, by a White woman, has led some members to cancel their memberships.

Many people feel that The Wing’s response to the incident has been inadequate, something that Gelman and Kassan acknowledge. “Our handling of [the May confrontation] left everyone feeling disappointed, and the Black member felt especially unprotected and let down,” they wrote to Wing members in a September 2019 email.

Journalist Char Adams, in her timely article, “Why We Need More Black Women Workspaces,” sums up the need for community in workspaces as follows:

For Black women, community is often paramount as we navigate life in predominantly White, and inherently anti-Black, spaces. So, as shared workspaces become increasingly popular, it’s no surprise that Black women are seeking community within this societal phenomenon. The problem is that we’re continuing to see the age-old dilemma of the out-of-place Black woman, even in co-working spaces that appear to value diversity.

In the article, Adams espouses the need for culturally relevant shared workspaces, particularly those with a predominantly Black demographic. Along with Ethel’s Place, she references Zora’s House (in Columbus, Ohio) and Dream Village (in Maryland near Washington, D.C.), as examples of businesses working to meet that need.

None of the controversy appears to be slowing Kassan and Gelman. The Wing has opened 10 locations since 2016 and plans to double that number by the end of the year. Each location is profitable, and members total over 11,000 worldwide, with an extensive waiting list.

Indeed, the controversy may ultimately have positive effects on the future of the coworking, prompting transparent discussion of what constitutes community, and how coworking spaces can better provide a comfortable, supportive environment for all members.

As Borysiewicz states in her article, her intent in writing was not to condemn The Wing, but “to complicate notions of white women creating seemingly inclusive spaces without a single nod to the experiences of women of color. Women of color face extraordinary barriers, not just in the workplace, but in their health and wellbeing, finances, relationships, education, and more.” The controversy surrounding The Wing underscores how important it is that barriers such as these—those that impact women of color, as well as those that affect other marginalized groups—are made part of the discussion.

Written by: Kim Pierson
for CoeoSpace

CRE Is Changing Fast—CoeoSpace Can Keep You Current

The way we transact business is constantly changing.

When I started working twenty-some years ago, many transactions were still conducted by mail—a client would sent out a request for information, the letter would take a few days to arrive, I’d spend a day or two preparing a response, stick a stamp on it, and a couple of days later, the client would have the answer. The whole process might take a week, start to finish.

But faxing was growing in popularity, and we bemoaned the way it made a more immediate response necessary. Was it really necessary that business be done so quickly? Didn’t it increase the chance of error?

Email was worse. We were expected to check it from home. Whatever happened to work/life balance? Was there no escape from the rigors of this profession?

Such concerns seem laughable in this era of instant gratification, when you can buy a car at 2 a.m., or swipe right on a potential date, all from the comfort of your own home. Hungry at midnight? Order from Grubhub and be eating tacos in an hour, or take an Uber to your favorite brewery. Want to read the newest Oprah pick? No need to wait for the local bookstore to open—purchase it from Amazon and start reading immediately on your Kindle. Need to know who won Super Bowl IV? Wikipedia has all the answers, and it’s as close as your phone.

With so much information available immediately, finding office space the old-fashioned way is much like waiting around for that letter in the mail. In the constantly-changing world of commercial real estate, failure to use current technology can leave today’s mobile professionals and businesses without the most up-to-date information on availability and pricing—and in a position that undermines their bargaining power.

CoeoSpace can help. Whether you are looking to find space or share it, CoeoSpace allows you to conduct real estate transactions in much the same way that you handle the rest of your life—on your own schedule, with immediate access to all the information you need to make your decision. CoeoSpace: commercial real estate, on demand.

Written by: Kim Pierson

for CoeoSpace