The long-awaited Block22 development opened its doors to students for move-in Saturday, August 18.
Block22 originates from a varying range of sources, including the city of Pittsburg, Pittsburg State University, and the Vecino Group—a private developer out of Springfield. The company’s chief operating officer Mat Burton is a Pitt State alumnus, proud to work on such an important project for the Pittsburg community.
“The whole project is about connections, it’s about what the community did, it’s about what the university did,” Burton said.
In addition to standing as a residential space for students, Block22 will serve as a downtown incubator for business and restaurants. Several local businesses have already made plans to move into the space, including Root Coffeehouse and a brand new establishment operated by the owners of Sweet Designs Cakery.
“We’re ready to grow with the current business,” said Heather Horton, Sweet Designs owner. “They gave us an opportunity and we said, ‘yeah sounds good!’.”
She and her husband have worked together with the Small Business Council at Pittsburg State to develop the brand new restaurant “Toast.”
“We’ll have a focus towards local produce, so a little healthier option than people might be used to,” Horton said. “We’ll serve breakfast.”
Her husband Roger added that the eatery will also serve craft beer and wine.
The artistic nature of the businesses going in below the residential apartments translates up; the doors all have historic logos and designs, preserving Pittsburg in a unique way.
“We treat it in a way that’s art but not like in a museum,” Burton said.
The complex is centered around four traditional buildings in the downtown area of Pittsburg on the corners of 4th and Broadway. As part of the grants and tax credits involved in funding Block22, the architecture of the properties had to remain preserved. The properties include the Commerce building, the Baxter building, the National Bank, and the Opera House Hotel, which all reside on the 22nd block of Pittsburg’s original city plan, hence the moniker “Block22.”
The apartments in Block22 are designed for “microefficiency,” meaning they comfortably fit the most commodity they can into the space allotted by the original architecture of the buildings. Because of the varied building designs, the more challenging suites will continue construction for a few weeks after the opening day of Block22. Small business owners, however, understand the results of a busy production schedule.
“I think Block22 is a great, great thing,” said Ginger Cawley, sales manager of Hampton Inn and Suites. “It’s great for downtown Pittsburg, it’s great for students, but projects take time. We just need to be patient and when it’s all done, it will be done.”
Cawley added that Block22, regardless of its status, is a step in the right direction.
Students residing in Block22 have a full year’s lease and will live in the apartments until next August.