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Fester 986

I am torn on this issue, for bringing in newcomers or providing massive access to reasonable priced credit are about the only ways to redevelop neighborhoods without massive amounts of bulldozering. I agree with you, it is a story that continually repeats itself in Pittsburgh, but it is the story of reinvestment into a neighborhood instead of disinvestment. Would you rather live on Centre Avenue in the Hill District where there is minimal reinvestment over the past forty odd years, or on Brighton Avenue near the Commons where there is still significant poverty in Manchester, but there are pockets of significant reinvestment?

I have a feeling that Swissvale, which we both live in, will be facing this same story as the value to dollar ratio along with its character should continue to attract plenty of young professionals with some money to burn to buy up the existing housing stock over the next decade, for this place is much cheaper to buy and get taxed in then say Squirrel Hill or even Greenfield and Bloomfield.

Sam M


Agreed. Investment is good. And change is inevitable. And I would certainly rather live in an active, evolving environment that one stuck in the past. At least in most cases.

What concerns me is when swaths of people move to an area drawn by something-then promply proceed to complain about that thing and pass laws to prevent long-time residents from doing what they have been doing for years.

The classic example is the urban professional couple that moves to the farming community then complains about the smell of manure. Then passes strict anti-farming zoning regulations as his pals move in, send the cost of living through the roof and force the farmers out. Then you have these faux communities in which 10 or 12 yuppies raise alpacas, weave baskets and write about getting back to the land.

Or the couple that moves to the suburbs to seize the benefits of a good school district, then immediately wants laws enacted that prevent anyone from, well, moving to the area to take advantage of the good schools.

Or people who move to Fells Point and complain about the bars.

Look, Fells Point is all about bars. That can change, sure. But it would be nice if it happened organically, rather than trhough some smarmy upper-middle-class fiat. i'm all for the upper middle class. I am just worried about the fiat.

And i agree about Swissvale. It is a bit rundown. But man, talk about "walkable community" and a host of other things all the world's fancy-pants architects keep carrying on about. There is a park. A downtown. Sidewalks. And an excellent Catholic Church with a school. (We are registering at St. Anselm's.) If a critical mass of young people comes in and fills in for some of the attrition among old folks, it could become a thriving little place. And much cheaper than the new "liveable" developments that so often seem so, well, contrived.

That is, it's a real place. And cheap. And not quite so run down as some of the other struggling little pueblos around here.

I recommend it.

But not until I buy a house.



Jonathan Potts

It seems to me this isn't just about gentrification. It's an attempt at suburbanization. Mixed-use development is what sets cities and small towns apart from suburbs, and what makes them, and I hate to sound elitist, superior to suburban development. Single-use zoning codes are responsible for much of what we term suburban sprawl. To introduce them into a city neighborhood where they didn't formerly exist is criminal.



Thanks for taking the time to comment. And I agree--although I might clarify that the folks in Fells Point, as far as I understand, are not necessarily advocating "single-use." Although some of them might be. It seems more like a scaling back, or something like that. But the Fells Point I knew would not countenance scaling of any sort. Although I am sure that the people who were there before me resented my presence, too.

Or maybe not. We really did enjoy the place as it was. We went to the local bars anbd listened to their juke boxes. Listened to their stories. Tried to become a part of the neighborhood. I am sure that our mere presence shifted things immeasurably--but for some reason I think that is more palatable when it happens like that, rather than a cadre of yuppie goons rolling in and taking over the zoning process. Self-serving? Could be.

I might be way off base here. Maybe it's the old-timers who are calling for a halt. But I don't get that sense.

Either way, Fells Point is still an interesting place to go. But not nearly interesting as it was, say, 10 years ago.

Fester 986

Thank you both for a good discussion --- and I think that Sam is identifying the key point of newcomers seeking to impose political control over their new environment at the cost of both current residents AND future newcomers who are in anyways different than the present set of newcomers.

I am just wondering what type of political coalition that can is resilent enough to withstand a new money, organied onslaught that brings in significant new cash to a community. If there is a slow trickle of new risk takers, the assimiliation and scale will win; if there is flood, what happens? I am not sure. Secondly, from a regional point of view, even a micro regional point of view, it might not be a bad idea for everyone except for the locals that this process occurs, as it is cyclical process.

I have only been in PGH for 7 years now, but from what I understand, the Walnut Street part of Shadyside had way more indy-cred and character my freshman year and especially earlier but over the course of time, accelerated in the past 10 years, the area has yuppified. In my mind, Shadyside is far less interesting today than when I lived there as it is far more homogenous in the services offered and population segments who use those services. HOWEVER --- Ellsworth Street is becoming much more interesting (I need to check out that new Tapas place near the Highland Avenue bridge) and there is a hop of new development and business formation going in at Highland and Penn Circle (Kelly's, Abay, Red Room, Shadow Lounge etc.) that is taking the some of the function of the indy cred Walnut Street of previous decades. This new development going into East Liberty is helping to establish functional diversity of usees and people in neighborhoods that had only a functioning daytime street life, and not a night time streetlife. So there are significant positive externalities being generated from a yuppified neighborhood that are not being captured by that neighborhood.

I have no good answers here, lots of questions, and I agree that on a matter of equity and use fairness, residents of an area should have the reasonable expectation of what they are doing today, unless it is shown to positively violate someone else's rights or generating significant negative externalities, be able to keep on doing what they have been doing

Jonathan Potts

I think gentrification, for all the pain it can bring, is a good thing, but local governments need to hold firm and not cater to the whims of new residents, who may themselves be replaced with another wave in 20 years or so.

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