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sean mcdaniel

Honestly, there really are a lot better things to be concerned about than that guy from St. Louis living in the Encore on 7th. But he is just one answer to the question you asked me about who's going to live in these places...the answer of course is people with the means and the desire. Don't be surprised to see Big Ben of some of his Steelers teammates moving in. Makes sense, millionaire football players making their living in subsidized staduims (or stadia) living in subsidized luxury condos.

As Lynyrd Skynrd might have asked, now subsidies do not bother me, does your conscience bother you?

Now this, Mark Nordenberg recently spouted off that Pitt's government funding by the state was cut. GASP! WHAAAAAA! ARGGGGGHHHH! As an explanation of why the funding is important he claimed that for every $1 of gov't. funding, Pitt raised $1.60 on its own...as if one affected the other. When telemarketers from the Pitt Alumni call me, the last question on my mind is how much the school got from the state or DC this year. Really, I'm thinking something like, damn, I swear I just sent a damn check last month. When the call (and it seems they never stop) I give what I can afford (and sometimes more) but what anyone else is pitching into the kitty doesn't influence my decision.

Still, let's say that if those subsidies do help Pitt raise more money on its own, then why couldn't subsidized housing downtown help bring more private money into town? You know, some fancy lad from Swissvale or Avalon might decides to open a New York Style deli in a neglected Liberty Ave. storefront — and it's a hit. Someone else might open a tailor shop on Smithfield, across from Sammy's Famous Corn Beef sandwiches...even in Manhattan little guys (and gals) manage to compete against the subsidized Goliaths. It could happen here.

Hell, if Downtown does thrive, you can use that FREE, SUBSIDIZED TWICE OVER (PAT on its own is the first free ride) bus pass to check out the action.

Okay, enough of that, boys. Unless the Piatt deal falls through, it's going to happen. So why not hope it works out instead waiting for it to explode like the Hindenburg?

Anyway, let's talk about another subsidy mentioned in the PG this morning. That one that's going to waste $800,000 from the tax coffers of the feds and cash strapped Millvale to build a second pedestrian bridge to Washington's Crossing from the hiking/biking trail along the Allegheny River. Come on! If you're that f**cking lazy that you can't pedal the from the site of the proposed bridge to the current one on the southern end of WC, then you really should have the massive heart attack you deserve. What nerve of the Friends of the Riverfront to practically steal money from Millvale, a town where probably less than 2 percent will ever use the trail, let alone the bridge. Unlike the govt financed condos downtown, this vanity project of a bridge offers no economic or asthetic or physical payoff for anyone.

And more disclosure, I ride a bike. Often along that trail. Never once in my travels there have I said to myself, wow what if they built a bridge that was almost as useless as that one in Alaska (you guys know which one, right?). That $800,000 could have been used to fund the bike/hike portion of the hot metal bridge, which would better link the area's trails, which can be used for practical as well as recreational purposes. The proposed WC bridge is nothing but a diversion, since you either have to exit the island where you got on at the northern tip, or walk a mile to the other end. The point is it's an island. A very tiny one. But a big waste of money.

Sorry to use up your space, Sam. But I do like to save room on my blog for important stuff...like reminding everyone how Americans are senselessly losing their lives in iraq. Honestly, i'd rather they'd be worrying if Lucas Piatt is getting too sweet of a deal.

Sam M

Sean,

You wrote:

"Unless the Piatt deal falls through, it's going to happen. So why not hope it works out instead waiting for it to explode like the Hindenburg? "

Again, your level of support for the project is unclear. Do you consider it a sham--but one that's a done deal? Or do you think it's a good thing for the city, being done in the right way by the right people? If you did magically have the power to pull the plug on it, what would you do?

Last, am I correct in assuming that your quote mentioned above amounts to, "Hey, the people in charge have decided that this is the right path. It's a fait accompli. And since there is nothing we can do about it we should support it. And not supporting it amounts to hoping for its failure."

Do you really believe that? If so, isn't there a war you should be supporting?

As a matter of fact, given your preferred course of action, is there ANY policy open to debate, discussion or criticism? No Child Left Behind? Tax cuts? Immigration policy?

Because all of these things are "done deals unless they fall through."

So should people who consider them ineffective and/or immoral just keep quiet? Does criticizing No Child Left Behind amount to hoping that all our little kiddies blow up like Hindenburgs? Does criticizing the tax cuts amount to hoping for the economy to implode? Does criticizing the war amount to hoping for failure in Iraq? Does criticizing the sale of Rolling Rock amount to hoping for the demise of Big Beer?

OK. I'll grant you the last one...

sean mcdaniel

Sam,

I don't think downtown can be left to its own devices. It's too late for that. For whatever and however many reasons that it's reached the current state of decline, government subsidies aren't really that big.

The Forbes-Fifth corridor is a victim of the suburbs. When theaters in the North and South Hills started playing first run movies, people quit going to Pittsburgh for the opening of Jaws or The Godfather (i
think Star Wars was one of the first blockbusters to open at a burb theater. i know you're probably too young to remember when everything opened downtown first before moving out to the suburbs). Same with shopping. Who needed to hassle with parking and walking in the heat or cold or rain or snow when you could do to Kaufmann's in the South Hills and avoid all the unpleasantness. When the theaters lost business, so did restaurants and bars. When the theaters closed, so did the restaurants and bars. It was a trickle down effect of failure.

Yes, Lazarus was a bust. Lord and Taylor, too. I didn't believe in either project...not because of subsidies, but because no one shops downtown that much anymore. Plus, I hated what happened to the old Mellon Bank building. But I really do believe that having a growing core of permanent residents with tons of disposable cash can revive the Golden Triangle retail sector...look what the cultural district has done for the restaurant trade along penn ave and sixth, seventh and ninth streets.

And the wild days of the 1970s, when porno shops and massage parlor thrived downtown like dandelions in my yard right now, did nearly irreparable damage. You see, those places started moving into the buildings vacated by smaller, reputable businesses when the great suburban migration started. The porn places also brought in prostitutes (they were everywhere - penn ave., liberty ave., near mellon square; along cherry way; ft. duquense blvd, everywhere.), drugs, organized crime and general street thugs who mugged at will. at one time, between 10th street and 9th on liberty there were...two strip bars...a live strip theater...and three porno shops...with two more on the short block from ninth to just about the smithfield street T station. And that was at street level. In the same stretch there were at least 4 massage parlors on the floors above. That stuff killed liberty and its disease spread everywhere.

of course the demise of big steel didn't help.

but another thing that hurts is that most people who work downtown these days don't really get a lunch "hour," and especially not a paid one. At my last two office jobs downtown, i got a 30 minute paid lunch. If i wanted the extra half hour, i needed to stay longer at work or come in earlier. Try getting something to eat and return to your office in time to not be bitched at by a boss in 30 minutes or less. Not to mention maybe going to kaufmann's for some shopping.

So a lot of factors got fifth and forbes to its current state. but subsidies aren't among them.

As for all those other things you mention...no child left behind, immigration, the war...those are important issues. all i yammer about on my blog is the war and the people killed there so needlessly. honestly, all i see you discussing are what i consider some pretty trivial things for the most part...smoking bans, casinos, downtown redevelopment...all things that aren't gonna get you killed (seriously, i'd rather spend a lifetime in a bar sucking down second hand smoke than go on one tour of duty for one hour of one day in iraq). you're mainly talking about money and how it's spent. trouble is, that money goes round and round. it always gets back into the system. but that 22 year old in baghdad who lost his left arm lost it forever. and all the dead are gone. gone for good. your tax dollars and mine might reappear in the form of a luxury high rise, but someday i might just bump into you on the groundfloor of that building while you're drinking beer with the fancy lad in a tony tavern. and that's what i'd love to see. instead of more news about dead American men and women who will never hoist a cold one again.

i'm not rooting for failure in iraq. i'm just hoping we get the hell out of there now. should have never been there in the first place. which is your feeling about downtown subsidies. but i do think you'd be pleased with yourself if many of the projects went belly up. I don't want Iraq to be a bigger disaster than it already is.

by the way, rolling rock's been part of big beer since the 1980s, when the local owners sold it to an international company. it only looked small from our distance here in pittsbugh.

Sam M

Sean,

I am not sure what it means that "So a lot of factors got fifth and forbes to its current state. but subsidies aren't among them." Or I guess I am sure and simply disagree.

Look, a revolving door of agencies have been in charge of downtown since the 1940s. So all of the deterioration has happened on someone's watch. And guess what? Those same agencies and institutions are still guiding development. But could the market have done any worse? Maybe we would have gotten porn shops and... oh. That's what we got any way. And we subsidized it.

And take a look at the way people talk about what's going on. Or went on. We are still swooning over the Renaissance. Which brought us Point State Park, which you agree is a disaster. And the porn shops.

Yes, other forces were at work. And those agencies faced some real challenges. But aren;t you at all concerned that when people talk about the Renaissance, they still talk about how it saved Pittsburgh? How it's time for yet another round?

So yes. I agree downtown is in trouble. But you seem to think that it makes sense to keep to the status quo. The status quo being development guided by city hall and Allegheny Conference and the URA, etc. And you somehow see this as important because it the area is "too far gone." Well, who let it get that far?

All I am saying is that I think it's time to change who controls that development--in favor of someone who will stop expecting me to pay for the "next big thing."

me

by the way- you cannot compare the revitalization of a city to "no child left behind...or the war" they are not even connected in any way.

me

that's strange where are my other posts?

me

anyway- stop complaining and start doing something that makes a difference- it is one thing to talk about how much you do not like the revitalization project, the piatts or the way the pgh govt. is handeling the reshaping of our city and it is another thing to actually do something about it. the piatts have an action plan- do you? i have my own action plan as well - not for the revitalization of downtown but for more communication within the art world of pgh, which is in it's infancy. i came back to pgh from philadelphia, because there is so much opportunity to make a difference. I can own an art gallery and live on the second floor for a fraction of the cost it is to live in phila. Pittsburgh is the best place to be if you are a start up business or if you just want to remodel your home. i'm so tired of some people's discontent and negativity about the city. be posotive and do something about it! create your own piece of pittsburgh. make it happen-take action. don't worry about downtown-start in your own backyard(COMMUNITY) it's all about working together.

Sam M

Alright. A new voice. Welcome.

First, I was not comparing dowtown development to the war. Or No Child Left Behind. I was addressing a claim that once something is decided the only thing to do is support it. Say what you want to about the Piatt plan. Support it or resist it for whatever reason you want. I just don't think the fact that it appears to be a fait accompli is a good reason either way. We criticize done deals all the time.

As for "doing something," that sounds great. But I don't think it's fair at all to say that the only appropriate sentiment is blind boosterism. I think that can lead to real problems. Look at all the cheerleading that gets done. And has gotten done. Plenty of that going on. Always has been. And I think that's the natural reaction.

And for the record, I wish the Piatts all the best. I really do. I would love to see their plans come together and make downtown Pittsburgh the best damn place in the history of civilization.

I just don't want to be forced to pay for it.

I applaud them for not applying for local subsidies. I would just like to see them do the same on the state and federal level.

Surely that's not too much negativity. If it is, people need to develop some thicker skin. We've been paying to redevelop downtown for 60 years now and got a decrepit corridor for all that money. Is it all that unreasonable to ask people to look in a new direction? Geez. I guess so.

And by the way, I do have a solution I prefer.

Auction.

It.

Off.

sean mcdaniel

Hi Sam,

I'll say one thing...you have the hottest blog around. All the rest of us would die for the response you get. So you must be doing something right here.

Anyway, I don't know how much good or bad effect the Renaissance had on the city. Point State Park is like my mother's living room when I was a kid a perfectly wonderful showcase that was off limits for everyday use. She may as well have roped it off like a museum display. Cleaner rivers,cleaner air, can't say I'm against that. I'll call the Renaissance a draw.

What killed downtown — here and places like Cleveland and Indianapolis and Baltimore is we changed the way we lived between the 1940s and 1960s...and a similar change is taking place now that may one day affect suburban and small town retail/entertainment venues. Before the mid 1960s, downtowns were the center of a region's cultural and business lives. "Everyone" went downtown to work, see a movie, catch an act (like Frank Sinatra) in a small club, everything was happening downtown. Then came suburban office parks and movie theater and even mega performace areas...and nobody went downtown anymore. Today, internet shopping, music downloads and home delivery of DVDs will take a toll on the burbs retail health. Those factors may never destroy the Ross Park Malls of the world, but they'll make a dent.

Sure it would be great if the Piatts and others paid their own way, but as I said before Carnegie and his contemporarie may have not received subsidies, but they bent and broke the rules to suit their needs. and let's not even talk about how they treated their workers.

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