American Eagle Outfitters

Any time a $2.3 billion, publicly traded company needs a new corporate headquarters, it’s a major undertaking. Thus, when teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters outgrew its space in suburban Warrendale, it launched a comprehensive search to find the best headquarters location possible. Explains Tom DiDonato, executive vice president, human resources: “Do we move to New York or Philadelphia? Stay put? We looked at all those options and in the end chose the best of both worlds—locate our headquarters in Pittsburgh and maintain a presence in Warrendale with our distribution and data centers.”

Its exhaustive search led the company in October 2005 to acquire a $21 million, 186,000- square-foot site at South Side Works, where it is developing an impressive headquarters facility for 600 employees—jobs that well could have been lost to the region.

“If you think about who we are, who we appeal to, the South Side is a perfect location,” DiDonato notes. “It’s youthful, vibrant, very cool —and it will only get better. It fits our culture and reinforces our brand.”

The URA played a key role in the selection in partnership with the Soffer Organization. Not only did we offer a ready-to-go site that spared American Eagle months of legwork, but we also developed a nearby parking garage to provide a vital amenity for company employees.

South Side Works is a shining example of the Authority’s brownfield redevelopment work. The 123-acre site, formerly LTV South Side Works, was purchased by the URA in 1993. Since then, the Authority has solicited interest for development of all components of the site while completing environmental, infrastructure and traffic enhancements and executing a tax increment financing package with the three local taxing bodies. To date, this vibrant, mixed-use site has attracted more than 500 residents and 3,000 jobs. At full buildout, the site will employ more than 6,000 and generate local tax revenues exceeding $9 million per year. American Eagle has enhanced that vitality and Pittsburgh native DiDonato can’t contain his excitement.

“When you come across the Hot Metal Bridge and look down at our building,” he says, “it gives you a real sense of pride.”