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NewBurgh

The Hill

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The Hill district has appeared in the news lately with talk of the new arena, and I was just wondering about a few things.

1) Does the Hill have a real chance at revitalization? It seems like a few good things are happening, with development in Uptown, the universities expanding, some new housing, downtown development, etc. Do you think the hill will remain a pocket of blight or tie into this somehow?

2) If revitalization does occur, how quickly can a neighborhood that has fallen so far come back? Will this happen in our lifetimes? Will the natural connection between the Hill and downtown (traffic patterns, road development, construction) be returned in the near future or is this a vague, long-term goal that may or may not come with arena development?

3) What would your ideal Hill District look like?

4) Does big arena development and money really have the interest of the neighborhood in mind, or are these meetings just done to appease the community, or make it appear as though the residents had a say in matters?

I've thrown a lot of different things out for one topic, but I'm just wondering what you guys think about the Hill's future.

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I think the Hill has a chance at coming back. How fast it happens depends on who is involved and how much money they can throw around. I'm not sure what I think about all these recent meetings etc. They might just be to appease the community, but I think at least some effort/money will be put into giving them what they want.

My ideal Hill? Well honestly I don't know. I haven't spent much time there, so I don't know much about it except that there is a gorgeous old theater there that people have been wanting to fix up for years. I would love to see that restored.

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Revitalization of the Hill District will only happen the moment people stop seeking "givebacks" (which is nothing more than a euphemism for "handouts"). It's time for more people to take the initiative themselves. Even if a group of people have to pool together money to get something done, just get it done.

Oh, and while I'm at it, there are three really, really easy ways to make sure supermarkets won't be averse to opening in the Hill District:

1. Don't shoot up the place.

2. Don't shoplift.

3. Don't steal the damn shopping carts.

Supermarkets operate on a tight budget. For every shopping cart stolen, a supermarket can lose $300 to $500. Steal enough of them, and the financial burden adds up. Furthermore, all it takes to cripple a supermarket's business is one stickup. If people don't feel safe there, they won't go there. Unfortunately, the Hill District is a high-crime area, so there's a risk involved. And speaking of crimes, shoplifting is one too. That's the surest supermarket killer out there. Chronic shoplifting and cart theft together make supermarkets hemorrhage money.

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Sadly the people who want a supermarket (and those who want to improve the neighborhood in general) are totally different people than the one who steal carts and all that. It's unfortunate that in many ways the neighborhood is at the mercy of the criminals, who basically ruin it for everyone in numerous ways.

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When I look at the hill district there is one big reason that I can see the revitalization happening sooner rather than later...and it's one that seems to be often overlooked:

OPEN LOTS. If you think about it, it's probably one of the only centrally located neighborhoods that actually has gaping holes in it. Most of the urban neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have preexisting housing covering a lot of it. This a lot of times forces most people to rehab and renovate rather than build new. However, there are a lot of small time private investors that won't even take the first step because they don't want to deal with the headaches of an old house renovation. All of these open lots are going to look mighty attractive to developers eventually. They're too close to both downtown and oakland to be overlooked. I'm guessing there are a lot of people with their eyes on the hill waiting to see the first signs of life before it becomes a big rush, because these empty properties are going to be easy to develop compared to most other spots in the city. That's another thing that excites me...if this actually pans out like I think it will, we'll have a completely different looking neighborhood than the other parts of Pittsburgh. It could add yet another layer of diversity and architecture style to the city.

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Good point, MFAC. I hadn't though about that before. And you may be right about developers waiting for someone else to make a move first. Once one or two projects get going, we may see a mad rush.

I'd love to see the old incline that connected the Hill to the Strip go back into operation. That would be really cool. Not sure what that would entail though - I don't know if it has to be rebuilt entirely or just restored.

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I'd love to see the old incline that connected the Hill to the Strip go back into operation. That would be really cool. Not sure what that would entail though - I don't know if it has to be rebuilt entirely or just restored.

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