You may never have heard of NAIOP – an organization of commercial real estate developers. It’s a big association, with chapters all over the country, and its members are responsible for creating most of the office parks, shopping centers, industrial and mixed-use facilities in the United States.
Last week, the Pittsburgh chapter of NAIOP held its annual banquet and presented awards for projects which distinguished themselves in various categories. Projects throughout the tri-state area were eligible for recognition. And of the four projects selected for honors this year, two of them were right here in Cranberry Township.
Naturally, we were flattered by the attention. The Cranberry Woods Westinghouse campus and its developer, Trammel Crow, received an award of excellence in NAIOP’s “Build to Suit Office” category, and Pennwood Commons – now the headquarters of Talisman Energy in Thorn Hill Industrial Park – was honored in its “Speculative Building Office” category.
Of course, commercial development is a huge industry and the spending generated by new construction can benefit any local economy, including ours. But construction is only the start; the people and businesses which ultimately come to be housed in those projects are what really form the backbone of our economy. But development can have tradeoffs.
In their zeal to attract new investment, many communities are happy to turn a blind eye to the appearance, safety, impact and use of commercial construction. A generation ago, Cranberry was among them. But over the years, our Board of Supervisors has raised the bar, reflecting the expressed wishes of our residents. Today, not only does a project need to meet high safety standards and mitigate its impact on the community, it also needs to look good and feel right.
That’s because our Board of Supervisors, reflecting the beliefs of our residents, visualize Cranberry as a community of character with a distinctive identity. Creating a strong sense of place, however, is not just a cosmetic flourish – it’s at the heart of the Board’s long-range plan for building an attractive and sustainable community. It is fundamental to creating the sort of environment where visitors come to shop, where students come to learn, where families come to settle, and where businesses come to prosper.
Those qualities form the building blocks of an enduring community. But they don’t happen in places which encourage construction that degrades, rather than enhances, their built environment. Understanding that dynamic has been a key to guiding our development.
We see NAIOP’s recognition of the high-quality commercial development here in Cranberry Township as validation of our residents’ desire to live, work and play in an attractive community, and for that we are very grateful.