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TheGerbil

Key parcels Downtown

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http://post-gazette.com/pg/05171/525023.stm

If they do anything like what the article talks about, this would be wonderful for Downtown. I just wonder who would pay for it.

But housing, a hotel, and retail would be a nice mix. And I love the idea of a pedestrian bridge to the riverfront park. A marina would make me giddy. I hope this isn't another one of those things that gets talked about but never materializes. (Which reminds me... has the Science Center totally given up on expanding at all? I was so sad when they dumped that design... LOL)

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One of the major problems with Downtown Pittsburgh is that people tend to attend events and then drive off. I just read an interesting article in The Economist about the differences between the new Disney performing arts center in LA and the new performing arts center in San Francisco. It said that the Disney center has a alrge parking garage and visitors to it park, attend the event, and then drive off afterwards without at all benefiting the local area. By contrast, SF built its center without any provision for parking and thus people attending events take public transit or park at a garge further away and are thus forced to walk through the city streets, enlivening them, and possibly stopping off at a restaurant or bar afterwards.

So what's the point of all this? I think whatever development gets built should not get built with a provision for parking. There are enough parking garages in downtown Pgh. People should park at the existing garages and walk. In fact, perhaps the city should make a enw law preventing the building of any further parking garages in Downtown Pgh. I know that sounds antithetical but the Downtown Pgh is fairly compact and everything is within walking distance of a T station and the T is free downtown. People should park outside the downtown area (Station Square, Civic Area, North Side, etc.) and take the T in and then walk to their destination (be it work, theater, etc.). Sure this won't solve any of Pgh's traffic problems since people will still be driving msot fo the way. However, it will do alot in making the city's downtown streets livelier.

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The article did mention a parking garage unfortunately. But perhaps they will seek public input, and people like us can speak up about the issue. You are absolutely right about it!

There probably is enough parking available, and it would be great to encourage people to walk more. That would help to dispell the myth that Downtown 'closes down at 5 pm'.

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I wonder if we can incorporate the water taxis in on this, make the traditional downtown "a bridgeless island" on event nights and have people take the scenic water taxis to and from events! ;)

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I wonder if we can incorporate the water taxis in on this, make the traditional downtown "a bridgeless island" on event nights and have people take the scenic water taxis to and from events!  ;)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The Marina (as planned) will incorporate a dock for the water taxi. Therefore it will be come the "cultural district stop"

Also, the Cultural Trust is NOT going to seek public inpu on this project. They've pretty much decided they did every thing else right so they can pull this off too.

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The Marina (as planned) will incorporate a dock for the water taxi.  Therefore it will be come the "cultural district stop"

Also, the Cultural Trust is NOT going to seek public inpu on this project.  They've pretty much decided they did every thing else right so they can pull this off too.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Hm, well... They have done a good job, I'll give them that. The only problem I have with this plan is that the parking garage is not neccessary.

I'm glad they remembered to include the water taxi in all this. Coordination like that is something this city and region need more of!

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I don't knowi if the garage is necessary, but building one is $$$, so I doubt that would put one into the plane without doing the math of anticipated cars etc and parking available etc.

Again I don't see the need and would rather use that space for even more housing, but I don't the #'s that they know.

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Parking Garages:

1) we're talking a proposal for 590 housing units and 220 hotel rooms.

-Pittsburgh needs more people downtown and they deserve a place to park without having to "walk from a big garage"

-This area and the parking would also serve conventions. We'll never get the big, important conventions if there isn't plenty of superflous parking available along with added hotel space.

-It would be of the utmost benefit to the cultural district to get a piece of the convention audience. There would always be people who reserve a hotel for a convention based on availability of nearby cultural events.

-Part of the reason people move to the suburbs is because of the difficulty in keeping a car in the city.

2) you can't just force people to do something, that's ridiculous

- the parking downtown barely meets the district's commercial needs, let alone completely failing residential needs. having "a space" available somewhere in the city doesn't mean that someone will be able to find it or that the space is anywhere near their destination

-the less available free spaces, the further away from their intended destination *everyone* has to park on average, the longer it takes to find a suitable spot, and the more frustration it causes

-The single biggest loss of business for downtown retail has got to be the lack of adaquate parking compared to suburban alternatives.

-Pittsburgh isn't as sheltered from the suburbs by miles of high density urban areas like, say, Manhatan.

-You can't just *force* people to do something that's inconvenient for them when all it's going to do is push them to self-hatingly go to Walmart instead of seeing the opera.

Let's get real. Parking is keeping people OUT of downtown. As the article says, you can't just apply an external formula of what worked somewhere else without taking into account the area's strengths and weaknesses Public transportation is about as good as it gets for a contemporary city like Pittsburgh, but it will never meet the needs of suburban realities (trying to do so would somuch as defeat the whole point anyway). The last point I tried to outline above illustrates what I mean. We're in a competition for these people, we're not going to force them to park far away and make them wait for a train when they *already drove in the first place.* Nobody *has to* see a theatre production. They just won't bother. Nobody can get forced to walk 6 blocks to pick up some groceries at Whole foods or go on a shopping spree at Lazarus or whatever because they already happen to be there for the theatre production that we're forcing them to walk to. It will never work.

People go to South Side Works because there's 3 or 4 affordable and attractive parking garages dispersed throughout the area. There's barely even anything there yet in numbers comparable to downtown, waterfront, or any mall. It attracts people because it has ample parking in a great urban location. Once it fills up with more retail and finding a space becomes harder than at the mall, people are going to flee.

While lack of parking punishes those who commute from the suburbs to work downtown and it's appearantly one of the few ways the city is allowed to fight population loss, it also kills things we don't want to punish: people coming to see the culture and shop. Those are people we want coming here and *spending* their money within the city, no matter if they took a train or drove. That's different from our goal of preventing people from moving to economically unsustainable sprawl and using the city as base-camp for their livelyhoods. It's even more ridiculous to punish those people who *want to live here* for having to park their car in the city every day, 24 hours a day, costing as much or more than car insurance just to park and then having to drive *out* of the city, to a mega-mall complex, because it's damn near impossible to get anything accomplished inside city limits. Fine, we want more trains and environmentally & economically sound transportation. How are we going to do that if everyone's rushing to move out to sprawl areas where mass transit is nearly impossible? GM and the oil industry are laughing at us all the way to the bank.

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*Whew* Long read! LOL

Some good points, blueblack. Yes, you are probably right. Although I think you are exaggerating a tad when you say people will "flee" the SouthSide Works if it becomes a bit harder to park there. It offers some amenities that you cannot get in the suburbs. We need to do that with Downtown too. People cannot see a Broadway show in Mt. Lebanon, so they are willing to park Downtown and possibly walk a few blocks for it. The stores Downtown need to be equally unique. Lazarus Downtown failed because there is a Lazarus in every suburban mall.

Yes, if there is housing and a hotel I suppose there does need to be a parking garage. However, I *don't* like the idea of theater-goers parking right next door to the theater. Do they do that in New York? Chicago?

For some reason people happily put up with things in those cities, but the same exact thing in Pgh gives rise to complaints. Perception, I guess.

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*Whew* Long read! LOL

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

:) I hope it wasn't too dry... sometimes I really get ahead of myself.

Isn't it interesting how department stores became such a mall fixture? Didn't they originate as an urban, downtown feature back when cities were still "walkable" (ie people didn't actually have much of a choice)? I personally think it's a huge loss to have Lazarus gone. It just wasn't the right timing to bring department stores back just yet... I hope they give it another shot. I don't think they were really prepared to draw customers from Downtown, either, the way Kauffmann's has an optometrist's office, bakery, etc. all located within the store... Lazarus was too dependant on those type of things being out there in a mall.

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No, your post was interesting, not dry :)

Yes, I think dept stores began as an urban thing. Malls came into existence when more people began to have cars and live farther from Downtown.

How great the world would be if we went back to the old way!

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I ahve to agree with parking. My point is that they (Trust etc) would know the demand better as to whether or not another garage is justified. The departure of Lazarus is unfortunate as is the fate of L&T. It's really sad that Nordstrom apparently is coming to town, N or S Hills I guess and downtown hasn't been mentioned at all as a possibility. That's a real loss, a one in a market store will be in a burb.... ughhh. I know it's common, but this is an area where Pittsbugh could be better than most cities, especially the newer ones that are mostly suburban oriented. Saks has done well. There is no reason under the right circumstances that another major retailer couldn't. obvously the decline of the district due to the limbo state of Plans A-Z made it worse, but if there was a solid coherent plan, then maybe just maybe traction would happen....

Pittsburgh has been blessed with a nationally recognized turnaround of its Cultural District. One that has been the envy of cities like Atlanta and beyond. it's a shame that only blocks away, the retail area went from so-so to bad.

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I think all the mixed signals that city hall (URA) and PNC sent and especially the on again off again "management teams" (didn't the most recent one declare bankruptcy and exit the field?) made everything south of Liberty and West of Smithfield into the Pittsburgh goldrush, with property owners more interested in "appreciative value" then running a business and making the area healthy. Slum landlords at the most textbook, but this time interested in "buy out value" then collecting high rents.

Oakland better watch out there has been some of this naked profiteering (neighborhood and business be damned I'm just holding on to it till Pitt buys me out) going on in pockets there as well. Sad, you would think running a business and making the area nice would be priority #1 for those guys.

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