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Amos the Poker Cat

Steigerwald's Reason article: There still is no Nordstrum in PIT. No Lo4d and Taylor either. There are two in PHI, one in CLE, one in COL. There are three Lord and Taylors in PHI. Like you said, and really should be obvious, it didn't work.

Rereading the July 5th Tierney piece, it seems that the Hill District, and East Liberty (where my Grandfather worked as a taylor until he was in his late 70's) did not die, they were murdered by hubris.

Jack Urbani

The fact that you could not navigate your way through the horrible maze of a parking garage tells me you spend little time in any city. Downtown is not a mall you can park within walking distance of the entrance. It is a city, and like every city, parking is a problem. Especielly the older cities of the NE. The fact that a Nordstroms has not moved in is a ridiculous meter and not the fault of even Murphy's misguided plan but of their previous downsizing. Pittsburgh has overcome hurdles no other city has had to bear and has made great strides, the current residential boom downtown tells me there were many good decisions made.

Sam M

Mr. Urbani,

Thanks for the heads up on what a city is and what a city isn't.

As for downtown housing, I'd be much more likely to call it a "boom" if developers were building units on their own rather than seeking subsidies.

And why are they seeking subsidies? It is either because the market will not support unsubsidized units, in which case I think your story of Pittsburgh's "revitalization" needs a bit of amending.

Or it is because developers have an eye for history, and know that city leaders have deep pockets. Or at least access to taxpayer pockets.

Look. I am ready to admit that the Piatts are real estate and development geniuses. Great stuff. Well, OK. They should go right ahead and find a way to build fancy new condos that residents can actually afford without massive infusions of public cash.

Sam M

And by the way, Mr. Urbani,

Great. I am an idiot who can't park.

But if you think for one minute that I am a whole lot worse than the hordes of people the city is trying to attract, you ought to think again.

Great, you like Pittsburgh. You think it is a wonderful success.

But the 300,000 people who have left the city since the 1950s apparently have other ideas.

Was parking a major concern? Probably not. But something was. And I think it is a mistake to just sit around talking about what a great thing the Renaissance was when it seems pretty clear that something has gone wrong.

Yeah, a lot of that was inevitable due to the decline of the steel mills. But how much? Seems to me that there is at least as much mythology built up around the Rensaissance as there ever was around the mills.

I want to address that. Some people don't.

So be it.

Jack Urbani

I must be really bored. I told myself I wouldn't jump into this pit of negativity again, but here goes.

The fact that Pittsburgh's population is declining is not exclusive to Pittsburgh. Most north east cities and many mid western cities have the same problem, perhaps not to the degree that Pittsburgh deals with but they didn't have the same monumental problems that Pittsburgh has had to overcome. Most not even close.

The city's population has declined but it's tax base is rising. Much of the loss of population is due to traditional, larger inner city families are moving into the roomier, newly affordable, older suburbs, like Penn Hills. The small cramped little townhouses of the South Side, North Side Shadyside etc. are now renovating to accomadate young professionals, singles and older empty nesters.

This shift is fueled largely by demographic changes. For example, a family of six with an annual household income of $65,000 moves from the city to the suburbs and a single, young professional who earns $80,000 moves in. The city ends up with five fewer people who need government services while the per-capita income of that household soars.

Shadyside's population may have been stagnant. This is much due to the fact that many older homes were, in the past, turned into apartments and left to absentee landlords. This trend is reversing as homes are be reconverted back to single family homes. Instead of having 12 students crammed into these divided homes there are now more affluent small families, singles and empty nesters. This is a trand across the city and the country.

I can already hear the nay sayers rustling around, looking for quotes and polls to explain, again, what a horrible place Pittsburgh is again. I can hear them clenching in that anyone may diagree

All cities have problems with taxes and competing with their suburbs. All cities have had to overcome bad planning of the past, bad decisions by their politicians, and multiple other problems. They carry on. These are battles that carry on also. This doesn't mean we immediately dive into doomsday mode.

Pittsburgh's largest hurdle to overcome, imo, are these same nay sayers who endlessly tell us what a terrible place we live in. What terrible leaders we have. What horrible decisions have been made...wha ..wha ...wha...
New comers here have to be constantly barraged by natives asking them why they would move here.

60% of the upcoming neighborhoods in and around downtown have moved here from other areas. My guess is to cluster together so they don't have to listen to this crap on what a terrible decision they made by moving here. They seem to know better, too bad many of the locals can't see it. I moved back here after many years in a number of different cities. I definately see the need to have many friends from out of town here because the never ending negativity here.

I can see such a bright light shining for Pittsburgh. Its reputation is making a complete turn around in the eyes of other cities. Interests are peaked. So many improvements have been made to make this city a better place to live. HUGE improvements! Improvements that will alter the citys entire direction and purpose in the future. I see neighborhoods thriving and vibrant neighborhood shopping districts. Art art everywhere. I see development happening where it was previously unheard of, East Liberty, South Side, Downtown, Uptown & the North Shore. The rivers are nearly completely lined with parks and trails. All are heavily used.

I left Pittsburgh in the late 70's and returned in the late 90's. There is no comparison. The only lingering problem I find are these annoying, constant complainers. Like gnats at a picnic. You just want to swat them but you know that won't get rid of them so you just bear them and continue on. I found that most of them don't really have much to compare the city to and generally live in the suburbs and complain because they come to the city and find it isn't like the suburbs.

Pittsburgh has a huge handicap in that it must maintain as a hub of very large and sprawling metropolitan area. This gives it the burden of many "tax exempt" properties and organizations.

This is from the POST GAZETTE;
'Day surge' puts 41% more people in the city

After the nation's capital come Atlanta (62 percent), Tampa (48 percent), and Pittsburgh and Boston (both at 41 percent). Pittsburgh -- With its dubious reputation of having the most governments per capita of any county in the nation, Allegheny County's 129 suburban municipalities long have ringed the compact city of Pittsburgh. In the region's industrial heyday, much of the county's employment was spread out in steel towns along the rivers, while today, the city itself has become more of a job magnet for the region, pulling in a net influx of 138,000 working commuters each day.

Still, because those workers live elsewhere, the city isn't able to capture most of their local tax payments, said urban policy consultant David Rusk, and that helps explain why the city government is in such dire financial condition. Mr. Rusk said his studies have shown that cities that are able to expand their boundaries and encompass more of their affluent workers generally have much healthier municipal bond ratings.

From the Tribune Review;
Ritter, 40, represents what is called "boomerang migration," people moving back to the area after establishing careers elsewhere to take advantage of affordable housing, proximity to family and other reasons, said Christopher Briem, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research.

Ritter and his family are among the roughly 40,000 people who move to Pittsburgh and the surrounding region each year, BRIEM said, citing Pitt migration studies.

Jeffrey Schoner

I am from Pittsburgh and have been living in South Mississippi for the past three years. Fourteen months after we moved here Hurricane Katrina decided to redevelop the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. It will be two years in August since the storm rolled ashore and destroyed over 200,000 homes and less than 2.5% have been rebuilt.

My associate Joe Bigbie and I have been working on a building system that can withstand 300 mile an hour winds, 60 percent more energy efficient than conventional wood construction, components can be built in a factory setting and people without any construction experience can put up the walls, roof, floors, windows and doors in less than 72 hours after the foundation is in place. A person who is collecting some form of public assistance and really wants to work opportunity is also knocking.

Pittsburgh is an ideal place to automate the manufacturing of components to be shipped all over the country and around the world. Manufacturing expertise, materials and capital is within the city limits.

This same product can be utilized in redeveloping blighted areas and giving people a great reason for moving back into the city. Pittsburgh has always had a strong work ethic.

The United States has a strategic oil reserve, but there isn't a strategic housing reserve where components can be placed in regional safe banks so when disasters strike homes can be rebuilt in days instead of years. Right now the water of the Gulf of Mexico is ready to feed another Hurricane Katrina like storm. Communities are unprepared and there is no plan in place when Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or New York suddenly has 500,000 or more people homeless.

Ask the people in Greensburg, Kansas about the tornado that destroyed their town. They lost 2,000 homes and will be waiting a long time to rebuild. People don't have to wait. What ever happened to the can do spirit that allowed a sleeping nation to mobilize to fight a war on two different continents at the same time and win the peace?

Everything comes back to leadership and Pittsburgh and its community partners can make it happen today. The City of Pittsburgh has a very important piece of the pie….infrastructure something places like Gulf Coast Mississippi don't have. Steel moved to Pittsburgh to have access to the Three Rivers to use inland waters to move both raw materials and finished goods. The railroads have also invested huge amounts of money building and maintaining their rail network.

The questions are simple, will Pittsburgh lead or follow?

I’ve got organizations in Mexico and China that want to make my product in their country and export it back to the United States. This is not what I want to do, I’m from Squirrel Hill and I saw them take down the mills. I don’t want to put another stake in the heart of the American worker. Getting people behind a vision in the USA is difficult to say the least.

You want to know more, than contact Jeffrey Schoner at (601) 319-9912 or via e-mail at jrschoner@nagv.org.

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