Friday, February 9, 2007

Charm Offensive on the North Side

Timothy McNulty of the P-G brings us news of the Charm Bracelet project, an effort "to connect destinations -- among them, the Children's Museum, Andy Warhol Museum, Carnegie Science Center, National Aviary, Mattress Factory, New Hazlett Theater, Allegheny Commons park and sports stadiums -- in a way that positions the North Side as the city's 'family district,' just as Downtown's theaters and galleries are grouped as the Cultural District."

At first we thought, greeaaaat ... a splashy PR initiative that hopes to reverse fifty years urban decay, by way of subsidizing a few technicolor art projects, promoting a few well-heeled interests, and deploying "Family Ambassadors" to coerce untouchables (which includes both panhandlers and singles) to relocate back over the river.

Parochial Comet naysaying was given pause, however, when we discovered the old game plan from the CMU Urban Laboratory, which included a lot of encouraging rhetoric about housing, mixed-use development, communication with existing neighborhood coalitions, and utilization of existing community assets.

We were especially encouraged that the "Housing as Catalyst" division of the Charm Bracelet was headed by architects Dan Rothschild and Ken Donyo -- the dynamic duo bold enough to foresee and publicize the advantages of PITG's North Shore casino proposal.

The plans will be unveiled (discussed?) at the Children's Museum on Tuesday the 13th. The Comet may actually do some original reporting. We are curious how much of the original mission was able to survive the input of our city's "knowledge workers."

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