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PghUSA

Southhills developer to revitalize old Lazarus

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http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05341/618303.stm

Although I would much rather see Macy's continue with it or a Nordstrom's, Neiman Marcus or Bloomingdale's come into downtown (or heck even a Whole Foods, WM Supercenter or Super Target to make downtown more "livable" for residents) I do like this idea to increase the buildings height, and to think they knocked down that skyscraper (15 or 18 floors) that had the old famous Pittsburgh Sports Mural on it to build the somewhat squat structure (when looking from the air it makes u want to build SOMETHING on top of that thing) of Lazarus/Macy's. Condos, Retail and offices are planned for the pretty massive structure. Seeing how downtown is coming back and coming back STRONG, as a residential community and more, although parking will always be a major roadblock I would love to see a multi-level (downtowns such as Dallas and Chicago have them) Whole Foods, Super Target or Wal-Mart Supercenter come downtown, it is OUTRAGEOUS that if you wish to live downtown you have to go to the southside or E. Liberty area to go grocery shopping or to the South or North Hills for a national retailer like WF, WM or Target! Eventually downtown will come to a critical mass where they MUST have some national and a combination of many local food and basic retail stores, the Home Depots and Whole Foods and Wal-Marts do demand lots in the way of parking, but as far as the "big box" stores go the former Lazarus would be an excellent choice for us to start with (in eventual years we could get a few more on the edge of the strip the northshore and Station Sq. to fill out downtown shopping).

I know this is secondary to the Bloomingdale's, Neiman Marcus's, Nordstrom's and Macy's situation, but if you are serious about downtown being every bit the Mt. Lebanon or McCandless people need lunch meat and hot dog buns just as much as they need a Macy's in those neighborhoods, it is important for the long term viability of the "neighborhood" of downtown.

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The grocery store has to be the next step. Downtown Portland has a whole foods too. However, Eve Picker (one of the front runners creating downtown housing), made some interesting comments in a Trib article today.

... she questions what people understand a grocery store to be in an urban context.

"I think most people living Downtown will be satisfied to have a place where they can go to buy ingredients for a salad and a piece of meat to prepare with it, and it will come," she said.

The first try at a grocery store will probably be an urban market instead of a full fledge grocery. In the next couple years, the downtown population will increase quickly. I imagine something will happen pretty soon.

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I'm glad something is planned for that building, and it sounds like a good plan. That building is too big for just a grocery store, so perhaps some of the retail that goes in there will be a small grocery?

But really, while I'd love to see a grocery store downtown, I think people are making a bit too much fuss about that. I mean, not every neighborhood has a grocery store. I live in Highland Park, and I drive to the Waterworks mall across the river, or to East Liberty to do my shopping. If I didn't own a car, I would take a bus. Many people do this.

This is not to say I don't want to see a grocery downtown, but I don't think a lack of one would kill attempts to revitalize.

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Wal Marts and Targets are too big for downtown (unless we're talking Manhattan). And I don't see it as a bad thing that there is not one. A smaller urban version of a Target perhaps, might work, but please no Wal Mart. An urban grocery market makes sense and that really should be what occupies some space at Market Square.

I saw the article this morning and this is great, it's finally happening. I am wondering though, how many additional floors will be added on to the building? I doubt many, but I am curious....

Hopefully we will hear soon from PNC as well :D

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If I could get my wish it would be a smaller Whole Foods downtown as far as national, and a Giant Eagle with local, though I would like to think in the next decade the neighborhood could support a WM Supercenter and Super Target in the nearby area, maybe Foodland as well (northshore, strip district etc.).

I too am wondering about the height increase Mj, the PG article doesn't really go into, in fact at the end of the article it is almost like they are NOT going to go higher for the condos ?!? Hoping they come out with a picture of the proposed add-ons soon, hoping too it's something bold (11+ floors)!

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I would like to see (and think that it is realistic) for the building to go into the teens in total floors.

Have the original floors (4 I believe) as retail, then 4 as office, followed by maybe ten of residential. Great mix, but not unrealistic.

Again, I think that a market at the old Murphy's would work well and be big enough to offer daily items as well as several other common weekly items (canned foods). It is important for an area to have such a place in walking distance. That is, if you want a true urban neigborhood. And urban it must, not suburban.

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I went to the CMU Presentation alluded to in the Trib article (I got a nice trip back up to Pittsburgh just for the occasion). One of the interesting things they showed was a bunch of circles representing a 5 min walk from the two residential concentration areas downtown. The two circles overlapped at market square...so that kind of reinforces the idea of using the murphy building for a grocery store. I would imagine that would be part of the Madison-Marquette proposal.

Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Giant Eagle have all been approached but are NOT INTERESTED...there is however talk of a new york grocer being intersted in the site!!!!

Outgoing Mayor Murphy is really pushing to get things underway before O'Connor takes over, so we may see activity sooner rather than later.

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I really think a lot of these retailers especially Whole Foods are shooting themselves in the foot by not taking advantage of the downtown real estate market when it is low . . . Pittsburgh does have a critical mass circling for a very vibrant and active downtown. Some speculator is going to make a ton selling out to a Whole Foods or Target in the next few years if the upward trajectory of the neighborhood continues.

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I really think a lot of these retailers especially Whole Foods are shooting themselves in the foot by not taking advantage of the downtown real estate market when it is low . . . Pittsburgh does have a critical mass circling for a very vibrant and active downtown. Some speculator is going to make a ton selling out to a Whole Foods or Target in the next few years if the upward trajectory of the neighborhood continues.

I don't think money is the main concern for Whole Foods. After all they have stores in places like the Time Warner Center in NYC. Their M.O. has been to play the safe route and wait for a neighborhood to develop and THEN move it. It may cost them more money but whatever is spent is repaid in spades by their customers. In the long run, this is a good strategy. Look at what happened to Lazarus and Lord & Taylor when their parent companies jumped the gun and opened stores in Downtown Pgh before any revitalization had occurred, all based on the promise (and city funding) that it will develop (only to see Plan B and then C fall through). Whole Foods is not about that. That's why they're one of the most successful companies in the country.

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Urban,

Never realized that was their strategy over there at WF. It would explain why they are always in the hottest areas. I wonder what the specs were on their move into Centre Ave. area a few years back.

One thing that I constantly think about is how vibrant downtown would be if we CONSOLIDATED, planning & zoning could dictate that to make riches in the retail "goldmines" of the metroplex the store would have to first pay its dues downtown. I have heard of cities such as Houston, Phoenix and Jacksonville doing things along these lines. Whole Foods already has a massive location opening up in the south hills and has taken a chance over by Centre Ave. . . . just me fantasizing about Pittsburgh being a metropolitan govt. again.

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I am dissappointed that Trader Joes isn't interested in downtown. It would have been a superb fit. And I wish wish wish we had one around here. I hope they'll move into Pittsburgh in some other neighborhood soon.

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I am dissappointed that Trader Joes isn't interested in downtown. It would have been a superb fit. And I wish wish wish we had one around here. I hope they'll move into Pittsburgh in some other neighborhood soon.

Its been said that the TJ's hang-up is that they can't sell alcohol in PA. That said, they do operate quite a few stores in the Philly area (that can't sell alcohol either), both in the city and in the suburbs so that can't be the sole reason. Supposedly they were seriously considering the Pgh market in 2002 but there's been nothing since. My guess is that they were on the fence about enterring the Pgh market but the fact that they couldn't sell alcohol in Pgh pushed them back on the other side of the fence. With Philly, the temptation of entering the 4th largest market in the country pushed them over the fence.

TJ can work in Pgh and I think Shadyside would be the idea place. The X factor, however, is that Whole Foods is already in the "Shadyside market" w/ their store in E Liberty and that might be enough to discourage TJ.

I actually think TJ would work better for Pgh than Whole Foods since TJ sells organic and health foods at low prices whereas Whole Foods is considerably more upscale. They should do well in Pgh. That said, they are probably being distracted right now with opening stores in other markets where they've already been a proven success. As you know, you mention "Pittsburgh" to any retailer and they initially have an allergic reaction so Pgh often has to wait until the retailer saturates all the other markets first before they take a "gamble" and enter the Pgh market (I think Pgh was among the last of the major markets to get a Starbucks!).

The other X factor, of course, is unions. My guess is that TJ is non-union. That of course will be a big problem with opening in the Pgh area.

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Yes I do hate those retail "Madison Ave." stereotypes of our great metro, then again companies like IKEA and Xpress Spa etc. have chosen Pittsburgh to be their entry into "mid-America", with customers traveling through 2 or 3 states and sometimes 10+ hours by car to visit one of their stores. I think only now (opening summer 2006 if I remember correctly) is IKEA putting a store besides Pittsburgh between the east coast and Chicago into Detroit. That is still a lot of the Ohio, Kentucky, upstate NY and SE Indiana folks coming to Pittsburgh to get IKEA. XpressSpa is a bit different being at the AirMall but Pittsburgh is the first city in the world to have 2 locations of the store! Add this to the global HQ of the largest nutrition/health store in the world (GNC), largest sports retailer in the world (Dick's Sporting Goods) and industry leader American Eagle Outfitters and Pittsburgh should not suffer from being the "last frontier" of major national retailers.

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I think what happens is that many of these retailers look at their target demographic which is basically 25-35 year olds and Pittsburgh often ranks at the low end of the larger markets in thems of people wihtin this demo so they put it on the back-burner. That, of course, doesn't mean that those retailers can not work in Pgh. Indeed, Whole Foods, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Apple have shown that they can work. However, the lower demographic of 25-25 year olds is enough to give most retailers an allergic reaction. Add to that the issues with unions (a big reason why many national chains skip Pittsburgh) and PA's restrictive liquor laws (which hinders many supermarkets and restaurant chains from expanding in PA), and you can see why Pgh gives them an allergic reaction.

In any event many retailers which had never previously been in the Pgh market will be opening in the Pgh Mills Mall and in the development near Heidelberg so that should jump start things in a big way. Also, South Side Works and the Waterfront have attracted many retailers (and restaurants) not previously in Pgh. So Pgh's isolation may be ending.

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For the most part, retailers would never, never simply go by stereotypes of a metro. They look at demographic data to determine if a large enough target population exists within a certain radius, coupled with expansion capabilities (do the company have the resources to expand into market ___ at this time?)

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Well on the stereotype question I should clarify that, Retailers do crunch tons of demo and subdemo data, however when there are 30 markets being considered for expansion or entry I have read things in the PG or Trib before where they follow up with these retailer braintrusts and they are shocked to even hear that Pittsburgh is interested in having one of their stores, I don't remember some of the specific quotes but they basically dismiss Pittsburgh out of hand--we are not even considered for data crunching at times. Again this is hopefully the exception rather then the rule (IKEA, Whole Foods, etc. have given us a fair shake), but it does happen, Pittsburgh isn't even considered for comparison!

Second, I wanted to address this "Pittsburgh is too old" myth, yeah m-y-t-h. It is true if you compare census data that Pittsburgh is the seat of the 2nd oldest county in the nation. What is also true and what fails to show up in census data is that Pittsburgh has one of the highest concentrations of college and post grad students in the world, depending on your matrix anywhere from 140,000 to 180,000 in the metro. Gainsville metro in Florida, Austin metro, etc. although retirement havens to degrees don't have the "old" stereotype dismissing them from national retailers. This is where I have a problem with these "stereotypes" they prevent retail policywonks from realizing that Pittsburgh is a larger college town then many that pop-culture deem top ten college hubs.

This isn't the first time that Madison Ave. has forgot to do their homework on this, Forbes--one of the more respected publications for its fact checking--recently made a "mia culpa", realizing it was putting the demos of the University of Pittsburgh--among others--in Wheeling or Eire or something. Funny how a two year old can get this math right but a retailing consultant on Madison Ave. or statcruncher on Publisher's row somehow can't get their very expensive brain around this fact. My conclusion is either total incompetence (highly unlikely for someone making six figures) or a stereotype preventing them from including Pittsburgh in the stat sheet to begin with.

Anyway that is where I am drawing my conclusions from. :)

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I am dissappointed that Trader Joes isn't interested in downtown. It would have been a superb fit. And I wish wish wish we had one around here. I hope they'll move into Pittsburgh in some other neighborhood soon.

Last I heard, Trader Joes is going to put their first Pittsburgh store in Collier at the new development where (ironicaly) Trader Jacks is now. The idea of that site is that its easy access to all the high end South Hills Residents as well as quick access to 79 and the north/west burbs.

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100,000+ sq. feet of office space, a theater, a spa, a health center and 19 2 story "penthouses" in addition to the grocery store and street level retail NICE!

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I'm starting to get warry of all the high-end stuff going on at once. Exactly how many people living in Pittsburgh looking to relocate, and people moving in can afford $500,000 condos? Because it better be alot, there are ALOT of high end projects comming down the line.

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I'm starting to get warry of all the high-end stuff going on at once. Exactly how many people living in Pittsburgh looking to relocate, and people moving in can afford $500,000 condos? Because it better be alot, there are ALOT of high end projects comming down the line.

I agree. I think the key to a healthy downtown (and any neighborhood) is a mix of incomes, occupations, lifestyles, backgrounds, etc. I think developers feel that "luxury" is the most profitable venture... so the rule of capitalism dictates that they flood the market with these perceived "high-yield" projects... which may eventually backfire.

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I disagree to a point, for decades the Fox Chapel, Squirrel Hill and Upper St. Clair crowd has shunned downtown, oh they'll come there for work but then leave by 5 or 6pm. If you consider the fact that Pittsburgh is still a top 20 downtown when counting Fortune 1000 companies, their VIPs, their corportate staffers etc. etc., not only that but that 4 of the top 175 law firms in the nation are HQ in the golden triangle with an additional 8 top 250 law firms having major offices between the point and Grant. Add in all the MDs at Mercy Hosp. and to a lesser extent Allegheny General, the professors at Point Park, AI and Duquesne as well as RMU downtown campuses, one of the larger concentrations of Federal employees among like sized cities (including tons of brass with Federal courts, agencies, US Attnys offices etc.), not to mention the national and international charities that make Pittsburgh home, downtown Pittsburgh does have a market for lots of upperscale condos, possibly as just a second home in the "city" for the Fox Chapel and Upper St. Clair crowds. A decade ago it was too seedy and without selection (Gateway towers, 625 Stanwix and Washington Plaza really being the only options), so many opted for the far reaching enclaves in the burbs. Today with the increasing globalization and 24 hour operations of many leading institutions in academia, government and law a home near the office is even more appealing.

I would think that Pittsburgh will be underserved even AFTER all these projects are completed, although there are many different projects they are only a handful or a few dozen at most upperpriced condos. You could fit the whole upper corporate structure at US Steel in all those and still have a dozen law firms, 2 hospitals, federal court judges, 3 major universities (professors, deans), 8 Fortune 1000 companies and a dozen or so large and nationally recognized charities and community groups presidents and VPs left, not to mention a hundred middle managers living beyond their means and a handful of trust funders looking to live the urban life. Major question now is will downtown draw in bigger ways then Fox Chapel, Upper St. Clair and Sewickley, I think downtown wins that battle by huge margins.

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PGHUSA: I don't disagree with anything you said... to clarify my argument... I think it is a good thing that there is so much perceived demand for high-end residential in downtown. However, I'd rather not see downtown become the exclusive domain for the upper-class. It seems like everything we're hearing about (other than student housing) are expensive condos. I'd like to see downtown living available for people of all incomes. I want a functional and diverse neighborhood.

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In order to get more affordable housing ($225k) downtown, the units will have to be small - probably in the 700 sq ft range. I recently lived in Atlanta. A lot of the condo development there added a chunk of units in the lower range. Mostly, I thought they were doing it so that they could advertise "from the low 200's".

With the amount of empty office space dowtown, I think we will start to see more conversions start. Maybe these will focus on the lower price level.

Remember, it is downtown real estate. Thus, it will always be pricy to buy/convert or build. Because of that, the units will be on the pricier side.

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