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TheGerbil

Geography

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I have been thinking about how Pittsburgh's geography relates to growth and development. The hills and rivers mean that flat land ready for development is rare within city limits. That's why old steel mill sites are so nice. But soon those will all be built up.

I would say the growth places like Cranberry are seeing is largely due to them having more open land to build on. No wonder this city has so much sprawl. Not only is the city proper relatively small, but it is full of land that is very hard to develop!

Then there is the issue of the riverfronts. Because they offer long strips of flat land, that i where all the railroad lines were built. Today, we want to develop and utilize our riverfronts, but railroad tracks (many of which are still in use) are in the way almost everywhere you go. This is a real shame. I'd love to see more places like The Boardwalk, where you can dine right by the water, but this is difficult.

What do you all think?

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Actually there is a ton of brownfields left to develop. There is ample land in Allegheny county, and there is certainly a great deal of land in Beaver County along the river that is begging to be redeveloped.

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^^as far as terrain goes I always like thinking of Pittsburgh as the Hong Kong or San Francisco of the region, like both of those cities, hills and steep hollows/bluffs etc. were everywhere, flooding or water encroachment was a problem, also in all the wateredge areas old rails warfs and the like had to be torn down. Really it boils down to economics, if you look at any successful city they tore down the old and decaying to rebuild new and great, Pittsburgh has the organizations and infrastructure to really remake all their rivershores the question comes down to the critical mass of local economics, a lot of these rundown rivershores are owned by investmente companies or real estate companies like Buncher and others, some waiting for gambling to be legalized some waiting to lure big retail projects once the surrounding area gets built up, and some just waiting to sell out to higher bidders once the local office/retail market gets hot. The county and city can do little about this save condemnation and we saw how well that worked on fifth and forbes ;)

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Actually there is a ton of brownfields left to develop.  There is ample land in Allegheny county, and there is certainly a great deal of land in Beaver County along the river that is begging to be redeveloped.

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Yes but I meant in the city specifically. Developing land in Beaver county or outlying parts of Allegheny county just means more sprawl.

However, there is still riverfront land in the city that could be made use of. I am sick of those decrpit old buildings by the 62nd street bridge, for one thing. They appear to be for sale, so here's hoping they get purchased and razed soon!

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Yes but I meant in the city specifically. Developing land in Beaver county or outlying parts of Allegheny county just means more sprawl.

No it doesn't. Look these areas already exist and need to redevelop this large plots of land. Additionally, some companies may need such spacious acreage for their business.

I don't this to be counterproductive to the City - what I am referring to is something that works - The PRA etc should be able to say, come to our excellent downtown, or if you need to be near the airport, the turnpike or the river - whatever, we have the perfect location - yadda yadda yadda.

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No it doesn't.  Look these areas already exist and need to redevelop this large plots of land.  Additionally, some companies may need such spacious acreage for their business.

I don't this to be counterproductive to the City - what I am referring to is something that works - The PRA etc should be able to say, come to our excellent downtown, or if you need to be near the airport, the turnpike or the river - whatever, we have the perfect location - yadda yadda yadda.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well yes. I guess I was thinking more of open unused fields than of brownfields.

But anyway, it wouldn't be such an issue if the whole county consolidated as one gov't. Then the city would not have to feel it is losing out on something if a business locates in Moon. It would be us vs. the world instead of Pittsburgh vs. Fox Chapel vs. Wilkinsburg etc.

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I dunno, I always thought of urban development as a sort of critical mass magic trick. It's the complete opposite of what "looks good on paper." If you don't do it just right, it just won't work out. Take the old stadiums vs new ones, or our airport with no good viaduct to downtown. Sometimes you even have to go against public opinion I guess, other times you have to force your way through beurocracy, which is arguably much harder in today's politics.

Those run down buildings and swaths of land that are waiting for the right moment means that the job of our urban planners is to find the trigger point where a small planned change will cause great market-based improvements. And I don't think it's really right to fret over land being "locked up" by development. I recall some skyscrapers downtown replacing older ones that were just a few stories lower. The steel mills once "locked up" the land, too. Plus, we can't relly on mega projects like SSW to bail us out in every situation... the trickiest part is creating a thriving small business community rather than enticing big box retailers and mega-corporations

Take the Uptown area, for example. I think fixing the Forbes / Blvd of the Allies / 376 interchange would do wonders for this area, which is basically land locked by traffic choke points. It's also hurt by extremely heavy bus traffic into Downtown, which should be replaced by a subway into Oakland. But that stretch offers plenty of good flat land to rebuild on and it has immense potential to finally meld Pittsburgh's two urban centers into a cohesive, symbiotic entity. A revival of Uptown would foster even more improvements throughout Oakland and Downtown, and the trigger point would be to finally redesign that onerous interchange area into something that works (plus the direct benefit of reducing traffic congestion throughout South Oakland). etc.

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You may be right, but I think the unfortunate truth is that in this day and age, most developers would sooner build on open flat land in the suburbs than tear down old buildings in the city and replace them. There are exceptions, thankfully. But sometimes there needs to be a bit of prompting in order to get developers interested. Redesigning that interchange would help for sure, but as far as I know nobody is considering that right now.

There seem to be a lot of old buildings in the city getting fixed up and turned into lofts, which is wonderful. But how many of those are we seeing, compared to the number of cookie-cutter housing developments in the suburbs?

I don't know where I am going with this. I guess I am just frustrated that so many people continue to choose boring houses in developments called Fox Pointe and Maple Shades rather than homes in the city. And I am frustrated that places like that continue to be built. I don't think the region needs any more of those. But it's easier to design a cookie-cutter house and build 20 copies of it in a field in Beaver than it is to build in the city.

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