Monday, October 15, 2007

Forget All Your Cares and Go Downtown

A study by the Urban Land Institute gives Point Park University a bevy of wondrous, practical ideas for expansion and improvement (P-G, Mark Belko)...

.. BUT warns against the University getting too involved in retail (P-G, Mark Belko).

The reason is that the panel concluded there's just too much retail space Downtown right now. It found that the gross leasable area of retail space was oversupplied by 298,000 square feet.

"What we're looking at is too much retail space for what appears to be the current demand," he said.

This is discouraging news to those entities already excited about developing Downtown for retail. Then again, the ULI might have missed some indigenous nuance:

"We have a lot of retail but it's all junk," such as discount stores, convenience stores and nail salons, said Mr. Sullivan [a broker with Pennsylvania Commercial Real Estate Inc.]

Until the city is able to clean out the "bad" retail, he said, it is going to have trouble attracting high-quality retail.

Lucas Piatt, vice president of real estate for Washington County-based Millcraft Industries, is clear on why we need to keep cutting them checks for the development of big-box Downtown retail.

He said Millcraft is looking to add the kind of destination retail Mr. Ferguson [of the ULI] believes could be successful. Capital Grille steak house already has opened in the Lazarus building. A McCormick & Schmick's seafood restaurant will be opening later this fall.

The developer's own studies have shown that Downtown is a "good place for retail," Mr. Piatt said.

Fillet Mignon and crab legs are a "destination" that is presently impossible to experience elsewhere in the ten-country region -- it easily warrants a long drive, parking hassles, and taxpayer subsidies. We continue to be excited for the economic boom that is presently occurring.

UPDATE: AntiRust, the 4th pillar of the Burghosphere according to Daily Kos, does this post better and deeper than we just did.


  1. There are already at least two steak houses Downtown. There is also a McCormick and Schmick's at SouthSide Works. Simply laughable.

  2. Not to downplay conclusion (as it's obviously right on). But the far tougher task is figuring out what new development actually would be a destination. Aside from some of the good works that the Murphy administration tackled, like expanding trails and such. And an even bigger question: is it in fact that vital to make downtown Pittsburgh -- unusually shaped and situated as it is -- a center of entertainment and frivolity?

  3. Dan raises some interesting points.

    1) I can answer that we don't NEED to figure out what new development would be a destination; just tinker with the incentives and the taxes and the improve the building stock and things of this nature, and let the market go nuts.

    2) Is it in fact that vital to make downtown Pittsburgh a center of entertainment and frivolity? GOOD QUESTION.

  4. Uh, bring in more shops and the Duquesne kids will consume. They are well-rehearsed in the consuming aspects of life. Just saying...there is always demand for shops when white, suburbanite kids are involved.

  5. I agree with many steak eaters are heading downtown to eat at another high end steak house??? Pgh is saturated with new retail be it the Waterworks in Homestead,the South Side Works,the new EastSide development. Where will we find the new shoppers???