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mjcatl2

Thoughts on Downtown Pgh housing

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It's really killing me that the core of Fifth Forbes has gone down hill so bad and that the residential plan lingers.

The city and PNC own enough property to sell to someone with a good residential plan. I don't want to simplify, but come on. Most of the block adjacent and east of Market Square could be residential. Not only will it make the core of downtown look nice, but also have plenty of foot traffic and this traffic would cross the square enough to liven it up as well. This should be of incredible priority.

Additionally, there are other areas of the Triangle that could have housing. I think a prime spot of an office/condo building would be the parking lot across from the county building and court house, next to Oxford Center. Prime corner for the building. I envision a ground level restaurant (there's a market for more options in that part of DT) maybe a coffee shop as well... above it a few floors of office. If nothing else, the legal field is expanding to some degree. .. and above it 10-20 floors of condo/apartment units.

After the success of that building, the city should focus on a few lots just east of it. Maybe take down the old traffic court (I believe that's what it was) building and make use of the open land near it as well.

I also feel that there is room for a building or 2 South of the Blvd of the Allies. Let's fill in these gaps and foot traffic will be well spread around the triangle (I left out the Cultural District as it's already happening).

Couple this with improving the Strip with some more options, maybe along the river, but certainly there is room along Penn, Smallman etc along the Strip.

There's certainly great potential on the Southside, even with the Southsideworks.

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Blvd. of the Allies and the PNC/URE lands near Market Square near the heart of Fifth/Forbes I couldn't agree more with (as well as the base of the Duquesne Incline lots of people think we are improving the southshore but really its everything east of the Chevy Ampitheater, once you cross under the Ft. Pitt its deadsville again :( ).

A lot of this is from the NIMBYs and people fighting the city over condemnation for the "grand plan" of Fifth Forbes once that happened and then the corporate take overs of Kravitz by surbanan mall co. Simon (they own North Hills and Century III) so why assist downtown after they took over the "planner" for the project Kravitz, now I hear the other project manager is having financial problems and will pull out. Its just some unlucky streaks IMHO.

Again I'll be a broken record here but if Pittsburgh CONSOLIDATED then city planning would put the priority on downtown (since the highways and interstates and infrastructure ALREADY exist there, rather then overcrowded and woefully inadequate Washington Pike or McKnightmare Road or 857 near the Waterfront (or is it 887). Consolidation would make this rush to build elaborate retail/entertainment/residential complexes WITHOUT proper regional or even local (within 10 square miles) planning and assesments, a thing of the past, and instead make the most efficent and best use for the areas assets. What the Waterfront has should be in Downtown Pittsburgh and the Waterfront could have been a great nature preserve/historic site (homestead strike/braddocks field) with some lots for some limited corporate offices, instead its a big mess of traffic congestionand poorly laid out to access the Parkways.

Consolidate now.

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Happily, there is some residential development going on downtown. They just broke ground on a building near PNC Firstside Center, I think. And I believe there are also plans for something along Ft. Duqeusne Blvd. (or near there). And someone else is tackling the Armstrong Cork bldg in the Strip.

I agree, part of the city's problem is the lack of cooperation between various municipalities. The Waterfront is too hard to get into and out of, and has no connection at all to the real Homestead. It may have taken some of the businesses which may otherwise have gone to the North Shore or SouthSide Works.

Although SouthSide Works is really really doing well, so I can't complain too much about that. I am very very happy with that development. It's so pedestrian friendly, has abundant parking garages (part of why it is pedestrian friendly I suppose) and has some nice stuff going in. And work will begin soon on the pedestrian walkway on the Hot Metal Bridge, making it even easier to get to.

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I realize that this takes time and that actually there is more activity now than in decades so that is promising. Success of this will only make future endeavors more likely. As for the Waterfront, it started as a planned lifestyle center and now is suburbia in a very awkward, congested location. They ruined a nice improvement of the riverfront with too many big box stores and parking lots.

I think that the chains (resturants in particular) who located there and at Southside Works perhaps saved downtown from anywhere USA cheesiness. Murphy and others are so bummed to not have a Cheesecake Factory etc downtown. Well, that's more room for something that is actually good and - gasp - perhaps local.

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^^ Gerbil I agree with your assessment on SSW and the WF, however Southside Works and the Waterfront is comparing apples and oranges in a way, Southside was planned by a "regional" government one that oversees everything from McKeesRocks to West Mifflin to Fox Chapel (across the Highland bridge) to Penn Hills. Whereas the Waterfront was a "look what I got" and really put Homestead way out of its league (plus Munhall and West Homestead) all while not consulting the cities like Duquesne and Baldwin etc. I agree theres a big difference in style and transportation and infrastructure with the two, but one was more "planned" from a "regional" perspective, so yes I am all for the SSW type projects and I even think if we were looking at it from a "county wide" perspective the SSW could have even been better. At least thats my take.

Mj,

I think whats going to soon happen is that the southshore and northshore and southside will slowly become more and more part of "downtown". I can't wait really till everything from Allegheny Hospital to Mt. Washington and the Hot Metal Bridge is considered "downtown" it will push the fact that "Pittsburgh" is even that much larger (if the southside is "away" from downtown then "pittsburgh" ends someplace not far from southside, if southside is part of downtown then "Pittsburgh" doesn't "end" till Southpointe or Monessen or Cranberry. ;)

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I have to say that the Northshore looks really nice now. I have a picture on my wall - a panoramic one of the city and the Northshore is simply vastly improved.

However, it is frustrating that is such a limited amount of land to work with on the Northside, they they didn't build just a little bit taller. I felt this immediately in the 90s when the Lincoln apartments were built. They look fine, but the suburban size would be better suited somewhere up or down the river, not in thecenter of town. They could have built a small cluster of midrize apartments there - bigger denser and would provide more people who will walk and shop downtown. Shortsighted as is the Continential buildings. Again they look nice and seeing cranes is a good thing, but given the dynamics of the geography and the fact that yes the Northshore is really a part of downtown, the city should have pushed for building offices in at least the teens (in stories) and add buildings as needed.

I know it's not that simple, but now that land is gone and someday there will be a need for the next great office tower, but where would it go?

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I too am frustrated with the heights, include Alcoa HQ in that list as well. I do understand and agree with the height limits near the rivers, you don't neccessarily want a 25 floor tower right on the water, at least not till the area builds up some more, but maybe 10 would be nice. Some of this is NIMBY think about the "corporate sign" controversy and why Heinz Field's sign facing the river is TINY compared to the space the arcitecture firm reserved for it on the back of the massive scoreboard. What I hate most though is those "skycam" shots of PNC park looking towards homeplate from the Clemente Bridge side seats, you have this great skyline view when looking out from homeplate but there it is on national TV when you look from the river in and it looks like nothing is beyond the roof of the stadium! If they could have made that hotel taller, and then Allegheny Center and Allegheny Hospital across the parkway are about 10 and 20 floors tall but several blocks away so the horizon doesn't even catch them beyond the stadium roof. It would be nice if we had some massive towers just north of PNC Park and Heinz Field as well. If you think about those games as free ad time for the city, then a few towers on every camera angel would be nice. :)

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A big problem with downtown housing is that politicians and some developers are looking at student housing as a quick fix. O

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^^even though they are non-distinct on the northshore it is good they are developing it unlike the promises Three Rivers had and never delievered on.

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I don't think the Northshore is bad looking. In fact, as I mentioned before, it certainly looks nicer. However my major concern is the missed opportunity to truly expand downtown. I don't know if there is a height limit near the river or on that Shore, but come on, how many cities have major building nears the river (or water) - many. I don't think that the buildings would have to be huge (though would love it), but a few in the 15-30 range would fit nicely in scale and create a sense of downtown density. Again it looks ok, but just ok and there is little room anywhere else for any decent size tower.

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There is a reason I have heard that Del Monte, Equitable, Alcoa and on the other side of the river Seagate Tech center are all cookie cutter twins in that they are all exactly 6 floors tall. I am told that insurance rates go up exponentially after the 6th floor because of firefighting tatics and terrorism fears. Might be the new economic model for these developers and companies to build only 6 spread out then 15 straight up. Sad though :(

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