Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Modern Pittsburgh and Virtue's Promise

CBS, Paramount

Pittsburgh is conditioned to seek industry, growth and development.

The green PNC Tower continues to rise Downtown, and major work with Almono in Hazelwood will soon begin to percolate. Down the pipeline, four major new revitalization efforts are on Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto's agenda: in the Strip District with Buncher Co., in the Hill District with the Penguins; and both Homewood and Smithfield St. by his own choosing. And let us not forget the other eighty-two neighborhoods.

The alchemy and adaptability required to build popular momentum behind such a development vision is reflected in the whole political latticework for moving that jobs agenda together with agendas for municipal retirees and taxed residents, for public safety and due process, and for arranging necessities such as transportation, infrastructure and education in an Eds, Meds and Tech-rich economy.

As the drawstring is pulled and this web of conviction acts on Pittsburgh, the purpose in all is to cull unsustainable avarice, undue self-fortification and political vanity -- and to let the commons thrive. But it would require an epic guide to envision beforehand how it all will work.

Ready? Okay.

You have also entered Your Guide to 'Burgh Drama S2E1: The 'Burgh Remembers
S1E1   S1E2   S1E3   S1E4

Part II: Community Building


Related Footnotes:  Trib: Bob Bauder, About Talent City, Oversight Committee, Screening Committee, Job Openings, @TalentPgh. See also via the Post-Gazette on Twitter:


Collateral footnote by P-G: Diana Nelson Jones

Political footnote by C-P: Chris Potter


  1. Let me make sure I understand. Lukey had nothing to do with the all the great things that happened in the City under his watch, but Peduto already gets credit for things that clearly started under Luke (Smithfield Street, Homewood, Larimer). Bill isn't even mayor yet and you are giving him credit for things that in the works.

    1. We've duly credited Mayors Ravenstahl, O'Connor, Murphy and prior for all their work. Now we're in a transition. This post looks forward from now. Stay tuned, for it is a thesis preface.

      The note that Ravenstahl seized momentum in East Liberty and worked with Burgess to plant some foundations in the East End is welcome. The idea that Ravenstahl did much besides dither and dream over Smithfield St. is new to me, to be frank.

    2. do some journalism. Go and talk to the property owners on Smithfield. Talk to the URA. This has been in the works for some time. The first step was the redevelopment of the Mellon garage and the retail spaces it houses. Seriously, I hope Bill carries this torch and don't really care who gets "credit" but it clearly started under Ravenstahl. No one even talked about Homewood or Larimer before Ravenstahl. To give due credit, you couldn't talk about Homewood until you got into E. Liberty. Every leader builds off those before him (her). If we stop being so divisive we might see that. Bill is out there talking about how development can't mean stadiums anymore. That is correct, because someone else already built the stadiums.

    3. Anon 5:08 - Namely, Murphy. Credit where it is due.

      And to the Steelers and Pirates for a richly wonderful Northern Coast of the Ohio River.

      But aside from that perspective, the immediate environs of public arenas has forever and everywhere been rough sledding, an inhibitor. This is a new approach. And the Penguins item in particular is nowhere close to one of Peduto's predecessor's finished works.

    4. Of course the stadiums should never have been built like that--certainly not with all that public money, and probably not in the core urban area at all.

      I do understand that there is no way of testing what Peduto would actually have done back then if he had been Mayor, and the political pressure to take the same approach might well have been overwhelming. Still, whether he personally embodies it or not, he is actually articulating a real principle (that the sort of development policies represented by the stadiums is not in fact good urban policy).

    5. Not been built in the urban core? Are you serious. That is exactly what makes them great, unlike traveling 30 miles outside of town like most towns. Having them in the urban core is what creates the energy and foot traffic downtown. Besides, we heard all these arguments before. Murphy created a place on the North Shore. It used to be nothing but parking lots and all the naysayers criticized everything he did. Now, they bike and stroll on the North Shore, they Peddle, Paddle and Peduto, they play in the water steps, they go to dinner and even go see great shows in State AE. That is the beauty of being a naysayer. You get to criticize and then go with your friends and have fun at the exact thing you said shoudn't be built. The same will happen with the 28 acres. Had it been up to Bill the 28 acres wouldn't exist. Certainly it is not a finished work from Ravenstahl, but Bill and supporters didn't want the 28 acres to exist at all. Now they will get to build on it and claim victory. That is how life works. The doers do things and others get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    6. For the record, I've never been to Stage AE and have no immediate plans ever to have fun there.

      And I don't think I've ever heard that "Bill and supporters didn't want the 28 acres to exist at all." Whether the arena was adapted or they just want something different from what the Pens want to put there, they've always wanted development. You can't *not* want development there, it's too developy.

    7. If you care to do some investigating, go and find the North Shore Master Plan that both Bill Peduto and Doug Shields signed off on. It calls for an amphitheater on the exact spot where Stage AE was built. Seems that people's positions change depending on who is in power.

    8. "Not been built in the urban core? Are you serious . . . ."

      Absolutely. Core area urban land is a precious asset, and study after study has concluded that using core area land for stadiums is a low-value use of that asset. Things like offices, residences, and so forth do less to capture the imagination, but ultimately can provide a lot more value.

      "Having them in the urban core is what creates the energy and foot traffic downtown. "

      Nope. You might notice there is plenty of "energy and foot traffic" downtown even when there are no events at the stadiums. Again, offices, residences, and so forth generate steady "energy and foot traffic" day after day in a way that stadiums actually can't compete with.

      "Besides, we heard all these arguments before. Murphy created a place on the North Shore. It used to be nothing but parking lots"

      That's steel bust era thinking. Pittsburgh has climbed out of that era on the strength of real economic fundamentals, which are driving jobs growth in areas like professional and business services, health and education, financial activities, and so on. Combined with other trends that is creating huge demand for centrally-located office space, residential units, and so on. So areas like the North Shore would by now be primed for redevelopment without the stadiums, and if anything putting control of North Shore development in the hands of the sports teams has actually slowed down and otherwise warped that process in very unfortunate ways.

  2. Homewood, Larimer? I thought that they were totally underserved. More, more, more. Never enough! Acklin said same thing. Someone do a cost ratio. Stop the crazy spending for a minute. Also, will Bill replace Parking Auth.? Onorado?
    Bill, keep that broom tight! I watching.

    1. Anon 4:01 - Your comment is as great as it is all over the place! I have to admit I don't find useful the Rev's rhetorical fixation on "dollars" instead of solutions, but I'm in agreement with him (and I'm not surprised to read, Acklin) that a far-upgraded application of resources and some disproportionate public energy is necessary to help lift up our poverty stricken and racial minority neighborhoods. If you want to do a cost-ratio to the public of ignoring, policing and cleaning up after misery vs. making the best available investments in troubled communities and the people living in them, that's an intense research project.

      Keep watching!!

    2. We're going to be arguing about gentrification in Homewood and Larimer sooner than many can imagine. But I'd agree they nonetheless are still at the stage that some smart public investment and planning can be helpful and well-warranted.

  3. To close the conversation of not doing stadiums any more, then it makes perfect sense to me to sell the stadiums to the Steelers, Pirates and Penguins. Exit strategy..... Sell the venues. And I don't even care if they are sold for the existing debt + $1.00.

    Once the stadiums are sold, then it will be truth for a focus elsewhere.

    1. Now, that is a great idea.

      Would get rid of the on-going maintenance costs.

      Sell them even if the sports teams do not want to buy. I am sure some management agency would jump on this and turn a money loser into a profit making venture by making these millionaires who keep soaking the taxpayers for more money start paying fair market value.

    2. Mark, I don't know. We've already built them. Owning them gives the public leverage, maybe could give us more. The overhead costs and structures can be minimized or folded up, but can still also be put to good use.

    3. Encumbered with the debt, I'm not sure they could find a buyer. As I recall even holding aside depreciation, their net cash flow from operations is way under their debt service.

    4. Bram, the leverage statement is funny.

    5. And, the focus is not seeking leverage. The aim is to be done with stadium deals and dealings. The top priority is elsewhere now.

      "Lay the shovel down."

      Stop digging. Stop seeking fleeting leverage where you don't want to be drawn back.

  4. "We've duly credited Mayors Ravenstahl, O'Connor, Murphy and prior for all their work."

    Not to be insensitive or snarky, but O'Connor was an active mayor for only abut 6 months. What exactly did he do, especially in comparison to the long tenures of Ravenstahl and Murphy?

    1. Come on --- give him his credit that is due --- he brought in the following:


      Isn't that enough?

      Oh, forgot that whole Redd Up thing.

    2. I was just thinking, I'd like to learn more about the process of identifying what became Consol Energy Center's footprint and moving towards site clearance. And whether it was always coupled with Isle of Capri (the Lower Hill casino project not awarded Pittsburgh's license), or began earlier.

    3. That is pretty well documented In series of events including the so called Pittsburgh Arena Master Plan by UDA. It can be traced directly back to the Isle of Capri proposal with the same consultants. The public process was a joke and a model of what NOT to do. The fix was in on the site selection.

  5. A rogue's gallery for sure. Some of them are so closely associated with Luke, it's easy to forget they were Bob's team first. Talk about your people skills.