Our Story

Over 100 Years of History

The story of Bakery Square begins over 100 years ago with the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) who elevated baking from a trade to a manufacturing science right here in Pittsburgh. At the time, the company was the world’s largest user of flour, sugar, butter, eggs, chocolate, figs, raisins, cheese, salt and spices. And rightfully so! The factory was pumping out hundreds of thousands of treats everyday and filled the air with sweet smells throughout the neighborhood. Fast forward to today, the factory closing led to a development resurgence and is now home to prominent tech companies, quality local restaurants, national retailers, a full-service apartment community and more.

History in the Baking.

1918

Nabisco Factory is Built

A boom in popularity of the National Biscuit Company’s Uneeda biscuit caused the company to expand and build several baking factories throughout the country and in 1918, the Nabisco Factory at the corner of Penn Avenue and East Liberty Boulevard began operations. The factory is nearly identical to the buildings in other cities, including Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and New York’s Chelsea Market.

Nabisco Factory is Built
1928

The Bakery Expanded

The bakery was expanded in 1928, when a four bay, four-story addition was stretched out along Penn Avenue to accommodate a purchase of a bread bakery that would eventually fully merge with Nabisco by 1940.

The Bakery Expanded
1948

Another Large Addition to the Bakery Complex

In 1948, 19 bays were added to extend the complex even further down Penn Avenue. Nabisco factories nationwide were expanded during this time to make room for new and innovative “band ovens” which moved dough on vast conveyor belts where it spread, cut and baked in a continuous motion. This addition is not present today.

Another Large Addition to the Bakery Complex
1982

The First Attempt to Close the Plant

After World War II, Nabisco began to prefer long and low bakeries just as more employees started driving to work. The combination prompted most of Nabisco’s city-based factories to close in favor of less expensive suburban land closer to highways. At its peak, the bakery employed over 1,000 workers in Pittsburgh. The plant survived after city and union officials rallied to convince Nabisco otherwise. It was among the oldest functioning bakeries in the company at that time.

The First Attempt to Close the Plant
1998

The Bakery Closes

The pending closure was held off for a bit in 1998 with support from the mayor of Pittsburgh and local customers boycotts. At this time, the plant was operating below 60% capacity making Ritz crackers, Wheat Thins, Better Cheddars, Swiss Cheese crackers, Ritz Bits and Twig snacks. Later that year, the corporation made its decision quickly and quietly to close on November 19, 1998 ending 80 years of production. The aroma of fresh baked cookies stopped drifting over Shadyside.

The Bakery Closes
1999

Other Owners Take the Lead

In 1999, the six and a half acre site was purchased and hosted a few other bakeries for short stints but the revival was short-lived.

Other Owners Take the Lead
2004

Owners Declared Bankruptcy

The last owner of the site declared bankruptcy in 2004 and closed all seven of their plants, including the factory in East Liberty. The factory then stood empty for nearly two years.

Owners Declared Bankruptcy
2006

The City of Pittsburgh Declares the Site "Blighted"

The city deemed the old Nabisco Factory blighted, a legal term used to describe land that is dilapidated, unsafe, and in an unsightly condition. There was a push throughout the city for the redevelopment of “brownfields” and former manufacturing sites that require significant cleanup to be more suitable for other uses.

The City of Pittsburgh Declares the Site "Blighted"
2007

Walnut Capital Purchases the Site

Walnut Capital purchased the site and spearheaded redevelopment to transform the bakery and surrounding land into a mixed-use complex consisting of 223,000 square feet of office space, 165,000 square feet of retail space and a 120-room hotel.

Walnut Capital Purchases the Site
2009

Bakery Square's First Office & Retail Tenants Open for Business

After a historic renovation, Bakery Square opened its doors. Notable retail tenants like Anthropologie, West Elm, and Free People welcomed guests into their spaces and Google Pittsburgh found its home within Bakery Square.

Bakery Square's First Office & Retail Tenants Open for Business
2012

The Former Site of Reizenstein Middle School Property Goes Up for Sale

The City of Pittsburgh built Reizenstein School in 1975. Unfortunately, in 2002, Reizenstein middle school was placed on a list of federal “improvement schools” and under the act, parents in the area were given the option to send their children to other schools. The school operated at a low capacity before it was closed by the City of Pittsburgh in 2006. “The Barack Obama Academy of International Studies” opened in the building in 2008 but moved their location to another facility in the neighborhood. The Pittsburgh Public Schools placed the property up for sale in 2012.

The Former Site of Reizenstein Middle School Property Goes Up for Sale
2013

Walnut Capital Purchases the Site

The site was purchased from Pittsburgh Public Schools with plans for the new development to consist of two 175-unit residential apartment buildings and additional office buildings.

Walnut Capital Purchases the Site
2014

Bakery Living Orange Opens

Bakery Living Orange, was completed in June 2014 with 174 units. The five-story wood frame building, which stands over a 160-car poured concrete garage, was the first of its kind in the Pittsburgh market. In its first year, Bakery Living Orange surpassed leasing expectations and the building was over 60% pre-leased prior to its opening and reached 100% occupancy by March 2015.

Bakery Living Orange Opens
2016

Bakery Living Blue & Bakery Office Two Open

Two years later, Phase Two was completed and Bakery Living Blue, a close replica of the Orange Building, welcomed home eager residents. Bakery Office Two, the 215,000 square foot office building, opened its doors to more employees. Bakery Office Two is connected to Bakery Office One by a three-level sky bridge over Penn Avenue.

Bakery Living Blue & Bakery Office Two Open
2017

Bakery Village Townhouses are officially for sale

Adding to the Bakery Square campus, Walnut Capital partnered with Laurel Communities to develop an urban townhouse community consisting of 52 for-sale townhouses. Construction was complete in 2017 and residents began to move into the vibrant city neighborhood immediately.

Bakery Village Townhouses are officially for sale
2018

Bakery Square's 100th Anniversary

Walnut Capital celebrates the 100th Anniversary of the original Nabisco Baking Factory built in 1918. The history of the site over the last century is amazing and we are proud to reinvent one of Pittsburgh's historic landmarks.

Bakery Square's 100th Anniversary
2020

Bakery Office Three & The North Garage Open

Bakery Square's organic growth promoted development of a third office building and additional parking garage. The 310,000 square foot, nine-story building became home to Philips Respironics and the Software Engineering Institute - Carnegie Mellon University. The North Garage provides an additional 1,000 parking spaces to be utilized by employees and guests alike.

Bakery Office Three & The North Garage Open
2021

Bakery Refresh is complete

After the development turned ten years old, our team took to the drawing board to give the courtyard a “Refresh.” The plan included updating the courtyard and incorporating new and exciting elements to bring the space back to life including construction of a new building to house Galley - Bakery Square, a three-story open air Conservatory and accessible gathering spaces for the public to enjoy.

Bakery Refresh is complete
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Where Are You Headed?

Where Are You Headed?

View our directory to see the full list of shops & restaurants in Bakery Square. More fun stuff coming soon!

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