Thursday, June 14, 2012

Parse That Subtext: BAKERY SQUARE EDITION

Powerful stuff. It's not every day that two university heads, a mayor, a major developer and freaking Google come at you this hard. An impressive work by a strategic integrated video communications firm.



What's the message?

  1. Walnut Capital is the shiz.
  2. You should set up shop at Bakery Square, or at least in Larimer.
  3. Bow down and thank your lucky stars for our universities.
  4. Luke Ravenstahl gets it; he has things well in hand.
  5. The thing to do in city redevelopment is work hard and collaboratively with stakeholders to obviate zoning, regulatory and other "red tape" whilst facilitating public subsidies and other lubricatory opportunities.

RELATED: I posted it to my Facebook, but I don't think I ever here mentioned my own brief surreptitious interview with Todd Reidbord.

20 comments:

  1. Quite a production -- so deftly woven that it is impossible to detect the seamless transitions among whores, johns, and pimps.

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  2. Reidbord came across pretty well in that interview. Obviously from a performance perspective he was a little too defensive at times, but his view that this development should be seen as aligned with Occupy goals came across as sincere.

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  3. Todd Reidbord is a good guy. The game he has mastered was arranged by other, lesser men.

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  4. Infi - Is that why you have him posted at 4-1 on state's evidence? And are you still shivering?

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  5. Everything is cool in Infinonymity, so no shivering.

    InsolvenCity, on the other hand, may be shaking at the prospect of new accounting requirements. It ain't called InsolvenCity for nothin', ya know.

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  6. Reidbord is a good guy coming from Infy? Bram giving some shout outs to walnut? Is the sky falling? Seriously, I don't have a problem with Walnut but they are certainly dead smack in the middle of everything that Infy and Comet seem to rail against. So help me understand from Infi/Comet perspective, what makes Reidbord a "good guy" and other not so good?

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  7. So Walnut Capital is Infy's sugar daddy! No wonder he/she's got the goods on so many.

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  8. The gushing video of Pittsburgh reminds me...

    You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig.

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  9. Once Reidbord left the Planning Commission, my major beef with Walnut Capital regarding conflicts of interest sort of became obsolete.

    To me, developers are like horses. If you enjoy getting from point A to point B, you'll take good care of them, groom them, make sure they're well-fed, respect them. But you don't let them decide where to take your wagon-train, trample people and poop on the carpet. If they do that, it's no reflection on the horse.

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  10. It is an interesting video, but man, what a non-stop flow of business-speak mumbo jumbo--but that's the game ... ya gotta talk the talk as well as walk the walk.

    So much to critique and parse out, but just one tidbit ... I like how one of the talking heads says that the proximity of Target, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's (three chains that every Creative Class neighborhood in the country has) is a big lure to outfits considering space in Bakery Square, then later Luke says how hard Pittsburgh is working to create a unique identity. But perhaps sameness and differentness aren't mutually exclusive.

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  11. Ah, when did Reidbord leave the planning commission? Sounds like someone in the blogosphere is completely misinformed. Go figure!

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  12. Gah! WHAT THE HECK??? I know he was off it for a while ... I know because I had attended hearings a whole bunch of times and HE WASN'T THERE ... I see Reidbord's present term expires in 2016 so I guess he was just reappointed this year?

    Gah. This again. Why don't we just appoint Matt Hogue to lead OMI and be done with it.

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  13. Unless you are imagining Pittsburgh cutting itself entirely off from regional, national, and global supply chains, then of course any sense of its differentness must be consistent with some elements of sameness as well.

    I think there is obvious value in trying to preserve re-usable historic buildings, reinvesting in existing neighborhoods (and the existing developed footprint in general), making conscious efforts to limit gentrification-driven dislocation, and so forth. Elements of "uniqueness" will arise out of such policies more or less organically.

    But I don't see much point in trying to prevent chains and such in industries where there are notable economies of scale (including grocery stores and discount stores).

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  14. Block that metaphor!June 19, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Patches of organically grown "uniqueness" are viewed by many developers and elected officials as troublesome weed beds requiring eradication by wrecking ball and "deep salvage" material reuse, to be replaced by hardy strains of proven seed stock--developed by Walnut Capital, CBRE, et. al.--that thrive in a variety of growing regions and economic climates. Of course, the downside of such widespread sameness is that discerning shoppers notice that the fruits and vegetables lack flavor and stop buying the inferior products.

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  15. That is one really confusing metaphor, but it does remind me how bad Giant Eagle sucked before Whole Foods came and forced it to suck less to get anybody to shop there.

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  16. Certainly you can't trust developers to automatically do the sorts of things I mentioned with making conscious efforts through public policy to those ends. In fact, there is really no way to isolate development from public policy, so you are really forced to make decisions along those lines when determining the relevant public policies.

    That said, I don't think developers as a class are necessarily opposed to such ideas. I'd describe it as mostly a collective action problem: developers often recognize the widespread benefit in these approaches to developing historic urbanized areas, but they also recognize the costs to individual developers of operating under the relevant constraints. So the ideal result from their personal financial perspective would be to carve out exceptions for themselves, such that they get most of the benefit while avoiding the costs. But too many exceptions makes for no rule at all.

    So again, you can't rely on developers to spontaneously do all this if left to their own devices (which is impossible in practice anyway). But I agree with Bram that given the right public policies, most developers can and will do good projects.

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  17. Good zinger MH, but bit of a narrow view. You must live near Centre/Negley. The Pgh. area has two Whole Foods (one just opened in Wexford) and four GE Market Districts, and of course, you can still find plenty of old style, perhaps substandard, Giant Eagles. The Squirrel Hill and Greenfield stores haven't changed much since Whole Foods opened, for example. Other fairly new GEs, the Waterfront, for example, are bigger and have more variety just because that's the way supermarkets are these days. Similarly, GE's GetGos are superior to 7-11, CoGo, gas stations and other local convenience store chains. No outside upscale chain that I can think of moved into the region and forced GE's hand, they just opened a bunch of new stores and did it better than their competition.

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  18. I sure do know that the Squirrel Hill and Greenfield Giant Eagles have not changed. Those are the stores near me that I use only when I forgot something at Whole Foods. They did fix the front of the Greenfield one after that lady drove through it. Probably they mopped a bit also.

    That they didn't turn everything into a Market District doesn't change my point that "Market District" wasn't a thing that existed before Whole Foods. Giant Eagle had to upgrade some stores to compete after it became plausible to buy lettuce that was green. They decided, probably correctly, that there wasn't enough businesses to justify making a bunch of nice stores. The horrible stores still draw the elderly, people without a car, and people who make things using canned mushroom soup. At the time Whole Foods came in, I was working in Columbus, OH and happily using Giant Eagles there while avoiding them here. They didn’t have enough market share in Ohio and had to compete on quality.


    P.S. The Waterfront Giant Eagle is big but the last time I was there it was very clearly not as nice as it used to be.

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