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City Guide: Best of the 'Burbs

City-centric? Here’s a compass to lead you on a journey to some happening suburban communities — north, south, east and west.

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With mainstays like the Chelsea Grille, Oakmont is a regular destination for relocating ‘Burghers.
 

After years of waiting, this charming riverfront town finally has a new neighbor in Edgewater, a 242-home planned community along the Allegheny River. Developers EQA Landmark and the KACIN Companies pulled nearly $1 million in scrap steel from the site, the former Edgewater steel mill, before finally breaking ground earlier this year.

With walking paths that connect to the business district in Oakmont—now with a growing restaurant row—Edgewater will appeal to empty-nesters as well as young families, a good prescription for a healthy town.

“We had our first apartment in Oakmont 37 years ago. It’s nice to retire here,” says Cassie Wright, surveying construction on her new $600,000 home facing the Allegheny River.

Wright and her husband, Dan, are relocating from their home in Plum, “but we’re not downsizing,” she says. Their new residence, a traditional two-story with a broad front porch overlooking waterfront trails, will have a recreation room, two spare bedrooms and an elevator. LEED certification on models ranging from single-family homes to one-floor condos means that energy and water-saving features are built in.

The new community is built along the same tidy street grid as the existing borough, which was founded in 1889. New residents can use the boat launch at the end of California Avenue and stroll the trails to the popular mix of boutiques and restaurants along Allegheny Avenue and Allegheny River Boulevard.

Notion, the five-star eatery created by famed chef Dave Racicot, opened in the space of the former Boulevard Bistro. With institutions like the Oaks Theater, Mystery Lovers Bookshop and the beloved Oakmont Bakery, the business district bustles.

The preserved Allegheny Valley Railroad train station in the center of town may eventually welcome commuters again. The mayor’s plan to develop a “green spine” along the Allegheny—from Arnold to downtown via Lawrenceville—envisions public transit and parkland. The proposed plan recently received $1.5 million in federal planning money.

Oakmont Country Club hosted the U.S Open in 2007, and Edgewater has already welcomed out-of-town club members who will use the community as a summer home. Younger families choose the surrounding neighborhood for the small (1,080-student) Riverview School District. “It’s an excellent district,” says Wright, who should know: She recently retired from teaching elementary students in the nearby Fox Chapel School District.