Friday, November 22, 2013

FROM: The Penguins. TO: The Hill District.

(This is a fantasy, though not satire, of what frank and open communication from the Penguins to Hill District stakeholders might look like after last night's meeting.)

Dear Neighbors,

In the interest of moving forward while retaining institutional and personal credibility, we accept responsibility for our role in encouraging what has become a significant misunderstanding.

We regret having informed you that we cannot pursue the Inclusionary Zoning practices used in the Almono development in Hazelwood only because the City will not allow it.

We regret using the term "affordable" housing to describe rental units accessible only to the upper middle class.

We regret having encouraged something called the Greater Hill District Master Plan, a fine and solid planning document with the legal weight of cotton candy to which we do not intend to adhere, least of all in the Lower Hill.

We regret having so often touted our willingness to "identify funding" for public art, infrastructure and residential affordability gaps -- in an attempt to obscure that we already possess more than sufficient funding, or that via this business venture we shall soon possess it. We regret that in all past agreements, documents and contracts regarding jobs and business development opportunities, weak language such as "best faith efforts" and "minimum goals" is all we could muster -- and there have never been enforcement mechanisms.

We regret having asked you to participate in the Curtain Call public art project in order to diminish your opposition in 2008 to our plans for the Consol Energy Center -- and that we did not see the project through.

We regret that we always brand our development for you positively by putting overwhelming emphasis on the "green cap" over the Crosstown Expressway -- while the costs, funding sources, and timetable for such a feature is literally the last thing on our agenda.

We regret having invited you to scores of community meetings over months and years at which our position on your specific concerns does not change, only so we can later demonstrate the quantity (not quality) of our community engagement.

We regret having hired enough consultants to give you inspirational speeches about our intentions, we might otherwise have funded several community projects.

The truth of the matter is we have no interest in addressing your demands. We are trying to find commonalities across two very different worlds. Our only concern is to parlay these 28 acres of the Lower Hill of the City of Pittsburgh into the greatest possible long-term profit for ourselves, because life is short and we want to live as grandly as we might.

But our efforts to get you to like us have become counter-productive and silly. In the interest of not generating further ill-faith relations, we suggest that you redirect all your concerns about affordable housing, place-making, shared prosperity and community building to your civic government.

Best of luck at the City Planning Commission on December 9th and thereafter. However, in this new spirit of honesty and collegial frankness, our impression is that you are not destined to make out very well there either -- especially since we gave ourselves every advantage by submitting our plan at the end of the year during the waning moments of the Ravenstahl administration.

But in government at least you will encounter decision-makers whose capacity to feign a cooperative spirit has not been utterly exhausted.

Sincerely (at last),

The Pittsburgh Penguins

PS. By the way, thanks for your support in demolishing the Igloo, without our having to give up anything of substance.

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