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TheGerbil

Good planning versus bad planning

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I thought you might like to hear about two urban develoments here in Pittsburgh which I think are great examples of good vs. bad planning. Both are riverfront developments in urban neighborhoods, on former steel mill sites.

The good one is called SouthSide Works. It isn't finished yet, but includes loft apartments, various stores and restaurants, a movie theater, plenty of parking garages, office space, and is supposed to eventually have a marina. It's very pedestrian friendly. The developer refused to allow a Krispy Kreme there because it would have had a drive-through. It also fits nicely into the neighborhood, and is easily accessible by foot, by bus or by car. Probably soon by boat too.

The bad one is called the Waterfront. With a name like that, you'd think it would have made good use of the river, but not so. Aside from a walking path along the river, which isn't really connected with most of the development, it does not even acknowledge the water. It is also very car-oreinted. Oh sure it has everything you could want: housing, movie theater, grocery store, restaurants, shops, office space. But aside from the small central area, you can't really walk around, you have to drive. And it's hard to get into and out of, and has zero connection with the neighborhood it was built in. Buses come through, but take strange routes that people have trouble figuring out.

I wish I could show you some pictures but I can't find any good ones right now.

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You could go take some pictures yourself. wink wink

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Haha. Well I might be able to take some of the SouthSide Works, but I kind of try to avoid the Waterfront as much as possible. LOL

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Oh, how I loathe the Waterfront...

Sadly, I end up driving there several times a month.

I wonder what they are going to do when the Homestead Bridge finally collapses?

What a planning catastrophe... sigh.

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I think they are going to be working on that bridge soon. I don't envy people who have to cross it daily. The nearest detour I can think of is the Rankin bridge.

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I agree completely with your assessment, TheGerbil. I have no pictures of the Waterfront (as I find it unworthy to photograph)... but here are some pics of the SouthSide Works:

53715452.100_3596.jpg

53715454.100_3598.jpg

53715455.100_3599.jpg

53715458.100_3602.jpg

53715460.100_3604.jpg

53712801.100_3470.jpg

I think the architecture and structural density of the project fits in well with the surrounding neighborhood:

53715467.100_3611.jpg

53715466.100_3610.jpg

53712796.100_3449.jpg

53715461.100_3605.jpg

53715535.100_3618.jpg

53715536.100_3619.jpg

53715541.100_3624.jpg

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Nice pics! Looks like a great community. I really love how the architecture is made to mimic old buildings but they are brand new. :thumbsup:

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I found some shots off the internet for both the South Side Works and the Waterfront. They are old, but you can still see the huge difference.

South Side Works: (so much more is planned, including a 17 foor hotel and a great riverfront park)

augflightl81.jpg

The Waterfront: Notice the HUGE parking lots and the 5 lane highway that goes through the development)

augflightl84.jpg

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The parking lots at the Waterfront will remain. The bix box stores there are dependent on them.

The South Side Works (SSW) built five parking garages.

The biggest difference between the two is that you can walk anywhere at the SSW but you need to use a car to get anywhere at the Waterfront.

Another aspect is how the two developments are connected to the existing towns. The SSW extended the street grid of the south side. The waterfront is divided by a railroad track and turned its back on historic homestead.

It's hard to believe that they are only 5 miles way from each other.

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This is kinda off topic really but I have read in the past about 'brain drain' from the city of Pittsburgh. It seems highly educated people were moving away because of better paying jobs elsewhere. We have had (and may continue to a degree) to have the same issue where I live. Folks moving to high-tech Raleigh or Charlotte, Richmond areas. Anyone know if this is still the case for Pittsburgh?

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Thank for posting those pictures, guys! Very helpful.

Urbanvb: I think it is changing for Pittsburgh. As it is now, 50% of our college grads stick around after graduating, which I believe is in keeping with the national average. I think it the mid 90's we only kept 40%.

And our economy is becoming more high tech all the time. Google, for instance, recently announced plans to open an office here that may employ 100 people. They'll join Intel and Apple in a new building at Carnegie Mellon University.

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The Waterfront looks like a generic lifestyle center/town center type of shopping center that is becoming very popular around the nation. People are becoming tired of malls.... If they stick with the idea that i have seen in other plans then over time this will become a more dense place. the parking lots will be filled in and decks will replace them. Buildings will go up that serve other purposes.

I don't see that happening anywhere, personally. But who knows?

The South Side Works looks like a great place though. Wow :)

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I agree completely with your assessment, TheGerbil. I have no pictures of the Waterfront (as I find it unworthy to photograph)... but here are some pics of the SouthSide Works:

53715452.100_3596.jpg

53715454.100_3598.jpg

53715455.100_3599.jpg

53715458.100_3602.jpg

53715460.100_3604.jpg

53712801.100_3470.jpg

I think the architecture and structural density of the project fits in well with the surrounding neighborhood:

53715467.100_3611.jpg

53715466.100_3610.jpg

53712796.100_3449.jpg

53715461.100_3605.jpg

53715535.100_3618.jpg

53715536.100_3619.jpg

53715541.100_3624.jpg

Wow what area is that? How did I miss that? Reminds me a bit of Lincoln Park in Chicago. Is that a large area? Is all that retail flush with the street?

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That is the South Side, including the new SouthSide Works development. Most of the stores you see are flush with the street, but as you can kind of see in one or two of the pics, the new development features a wide sidewalk that allows for some outdoor tables and stuff like that (in warmer weather).

What you can't see is that most of those pictures were taken along the main street. The SSW has a lot more to it than that, including some nice public spaces.

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I found some shots off the internet for both the South Side Works and the Waterfront. They are old, but you can still see the huge difference.

South Side Works: (so much more is planned, including a 17 foor hotel and a great riverfront park)

augflightl81.jpg

The Waterfront: Notice the HUGE parking lots and the 5 lane highway that goes through the development)

augflightl84.jpg

Wow! What a difference. I think these two pictures should be shown to every city planning department in the country. It's an obvious choice of which is the better development.

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I'm interested to learn more about the comparison between these two devleopments and am having a lot of trouble finding any information on the design features of the Waterfront. Could anyone direct me to an unbiased explanation of the two? I'd like to use them as an example of good v. bad planning in a different urban context. Any assistance is greatly appreciated.

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