« How Corporate Welfare Works | Main | Urban Planning, Pittsburgh and Frederick Law Olmsted »

Comments

sheel

Haha - great article... I just read it and came straight here to mention it, but you beat me to the punch

sean mcdaniel

Shuffle away...especially if it creates that high density population center that seems to be essential for a successful urban neighborhood. Who knows maybe the re-shuffling will kill the suburbs...or free up some space in Squirrel Hill and lead to lower real estate there. Hell, we've been reshuffling the population for years...maybe we'll never play with a full deck again here (go ahead, make a joke) but perhaps we'll get the cards back to where they were 40-50 years ago.

Sam M

Check out the first comment on the "Ahem" link. It's from Sean. Who said:

"i know you're a sincere guy, but you really have to get to know this town better. shady side and s.hill will always be hot markets. downtown isn't hurting them."

But now, if Sean's last comment was not in jest, he appears to be saying that subsidized downtown condos will, in fact, impact the housing market in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Only now he thinks that impact will be good for the city.

That's a coherent position, I think. I might not agree with it. But it's coherent.

What's not coherent, I think, is the idea that adding thousands of subsidized high-end residential units won't do anything at all to the existing high-end residential market.

I think we have a convert!

Sam M

Moreover, doesn't it seem like downtown is ALREADY playing with a "full deck"? That is, it seems like there are at least as many residents in that area as there ever have been. (Check out the City Paper article.) So it seems like that is one section of the city that has not lost population. So on a percentage basis, Pittsburgh is more geared towards downtown living than it ever has been. So it's a more successful city--if you measure success that way.

Only the residents down there are not the ones planners like.

Interesting.

Turns out that we don't just need people downtown. We need "certain" people. And certain others... well, maybe they can move elsewhere.

Interesting.

I would be willing to toss all this into the fray of the market. To see the Piatt's buy "undervalued" properties and build something more valuable there. In my mind, that would be "progress." Or at least an attempt at progress.

Only that's not what's happening. Is it?

Look, it's not like this NDC guy quoted above is a pillar of libertarian purity. Check out his testimony here:

http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/seniorscommission/pages/hearings/010730/czachowski.html

His company apparently deals with a lot of subsidized housing for old people.

But thie thing is, when you subsidize housing for old people, it is easy to measure success. Go to one of his properties. See if there are old people living there. (There are.)

But the Piatts are not promising "housing for rich people." Too bad. Because I am sure they can deliver that. If you are selling $500,000 condos for $400,000 apiece, you can bet there will be takers. And you know what? i bet five years from now that's how they will measure success. By measuring occupancy.

But that's crap. What they are promising is "revitalization." And as far as I can tell, not a single person is defining what that means. Just like they didn't in any of the previous Renaissances. That way, they can always claim success. ("Imagine how bad it would have been if we hadn't spent million of public dollars on this.")

Rubbish.

I love the fact that these developers are, in fact, going to have an auction for downtown properties. (Again, check the article.) But only when they begin selling them off to residents. That is, they will take whatever they can et for them.

But why can they do that? They justify the subsidies by saying that they could never recoup the cost. But they don't know that.

At the very least, shouldn't there be a provision that makes them give the subsidies back if their 1200 condos go for $500,000 each rather than $400,000 each? Or shouldn't they HAVE to sell them for $400,000 each?

Or some such?

That is, why do they get to control costs with subsidies without enacting provisions that control the costs to consumers, otherwise known as Pittsburgh taxpayers?

Interesting.

John Morris

Yes, it was a great article and i didn't read it with a fine tooth comb but You can see a lot of contradictions in peoples opinions. The one thing I did like was a somewhat humble tone on the part of people saying that they didn't know what the market was. A lot of people doubting there was a market while talking to a lot of people who would like to live there. In fact the really outragous rents people seem to be going for indicates that there might be an outrageous demand for this stuff.

Since I came to town I have asked a lot of people in town as well as out of town people whether they would like to live downtown and I got a lot of yes answers to that question, often with the person saying that it wasn't an afordable option. ( my particular niche group of friends are often artists so i asked a lot of them ) People always brought up the lack of a supermarket, which to me is just a dumb response since if enough people live there then there would be one. ( people who had lived in and seen the changes in other cities didn't ask that one- they wondered why would someone pay so much in rent instead of buying )

As far as the tone of anger, I agree that this does look like a gross attempt to save the downtown by bringing in just a few rich people, while excluding the wide range of people that might like the option of living downtown or nearby. A whole range of issues come up but first up is that a truely dense mixed use dowtown ( and surounding area ) is the best place to have an area that mixes many people, ages and income levels.

also some very real people told it like it is-- the poor , the old and the troubled ( and arn't we all a bit )benefit so much from this kind of living. But in this case there are oportunities not to isolate them but to keep them connected to life. Harlem today is a good example of an incresingly successfull mixed income nieghborhood.


I also loved the totally stupid-- All tall buildings have parking- line. My ass- they do. I think it points out that a solid chunk of the cost of these projects will go into parking. Here you see the blunt cost the city pays for not having decent mass transit.


John Morris

i know that i am going to hear it for bringing up Harlem, in that there is prety huge gentrification issue there but that is largely because of the staggering housing shortage in all of NY. in this case i mean particularly middle income housing. NY has had rent control since the 1940's ( temporary war measure ) so nobody builds or even maintains middle income rentals. Luckily there has been some slack because of Co-ops and condo construction and conversion and a boom at the top end which at least adds some supply somewhere. Also a massive black market exists so nobody knows who is subletting or subdividing what which has helped a lot.

John Morris

i know that i am going to hear it for bringing up Harlem, in that there is prety huge gentrification issue there but that is largely because of the staggering housing shortage in all of NY. in this case i mean particularly middle income housing. NY has had rent control since the 1940's ( temporary war measure ) so nobody builds or even maintains middle income rentals. Luckily there has been some slack because of Co-ops and condo construction and conversion and a boom at the top end which at least adds some supply somewhere. Also a massive black market exists so nobody knows who is subletting or subdividing what which has helped a lot.

John Morris

i know that i am going to hear it for bringing up Harlem, in that there is prety huge gentrification issue there but that is largely because of the staggering housing shortage in all of NY. in this case i mean particularly middle income housing. NY has had rent control since the 1940's ( temporary war measure ) so nobody builds or even maintains middle income rentals. Luckily there has been some slack because of Co-ops and condo construction and conversion and a boom at the top end which at least adds some supply somewhere. Also a massive black market exists so nobody knows who is subletting or subdividing what which has helped a lot.

John Morris

i know that i am going to hear it for bringing up Harlem, in that there is prety huge gentrification issue there but that is largely because of the staggering housing shortage in all of NY. in this case i mean particularly middle income housing. NY has had rent control since the 1940's ( temporary war measure ) so nobody builds or even maintains middle income rentals. Luckily there has been some slack because of Co-ops and condo construction and conversion and a boom at the top end which at least adds some supply somewhere. Also a massive black market exists so nobody knows who is subletting or subdividing what which has helped a lot.

sean mcdaniel

But now, if Sean's last comment was not in jest, he appears to be saying that subsidized downtown condos will, in fact, impact the housing market in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Only now he thinks that impact will be good for the city.

actually sam, i was jesting...but i guess the irony wasn 't dripping enough. if the condos do fill up (to your chagrin) or stay empty (to your glee), i really don't think that shadyside will be hurt by this...that's your line of thinking...

but even if shadyside was slammed and lost, oh 25 percent of its population, wouldn't the drop in prices that might bring in another type of person...you know, maybe someone more more middle or lower class (after all, theren't really enough 1984 ford taurases' or hip hop shops on walnut) or old people living in government subsidized high rises, or students jammed into rundown rentals? after all, real estate in shadyside isn't any cheaper than property in downtown. why is shadyside good, but downtown bad (sorry for the tarzan talk) when really the same demographic will live in each neighborhood?

and i'll ask this, let's just say that the population does shuffle...from cranberry...monroeville...bethel park (you know, those horrible suburbs) to downtown and those empty houses in shadyside...wouldn't that be a good thing for the city...and the type of community you favor?

you are right about the downtown population...but i've been brining that up forever...downtown hasn't been residential since maybe before the Civil War. so instead maybe the deck is just stacked (come on, i'm tossing you a softball there. let's see if you merely pop it up and slam it out of the park).

but really, if the population shuffles back into the city from the suburbs, even you might say that's a good thing...unless it means the influx of new residents comes from mckeesport, jeannette or duquesne...because god know the residents in the places are just waiting for that dee-luxe apartment in the sky to open up downtown.

sean mcdaniel

sam sez:

"At the very least, shouldn't there be a provision that makes them give the subsidies back if their 1200 condos go for $500,000 each rather than $400,000 each? Or shouldn't they HAVE to sell them for $400,000 each?"

good questions and fair too. as i've said i don't think all subsidies are bad. i voted for the subsidy to build PNC Park...but i don't think the Pirates should keep nearly every dime of revenue the place generates. (As far as the Steelers, I wish they would have moved to San Antonio) Fair enough, Sam?

now let me ask: since Pitt receives about 12 percent of its operational costs from the state, why over the past 6 years have tuition increass for in-state residents been higher percentage wise than hikes for out of state students at least three of those years? (check it out...google "pitt out of state tuition" you have to scroll a bit to find all the info). shouldn't the university always have to increase out of state tuition by a higher percentage? yes, i know in-state tuition is much lower, but should that total ever be raised more than than the out of state amount, by percentage?

Fair enough, Sam? Or maybe salaries shouldn't go up every year, just because the union contract mandates the increase? that might keep tuition lower and even stop increases. that's the way real (free market) businesses have to operate.

come on, sam. pitt is part of the corporate welfare state. as i said, i'd love to see how many company presidents make as much as nordenberg.

John Morris

Many People in places like Millvale or Sharpsburgh that i have talked to would like to live closer to the city.

But, I have to admit that i would like a big in town housing glut to happen, because i think there is a huge demand for semi affordable urban living from people out of the region.

To me affordability is a major draw for Pittsburgh and it needs to play that card for all it's worth.


sean mcdaniel

uh, john...unless you live in the city, you can't get much closer than millvale or sharpsburg...and seriously, i don't want to sound condescending, but i'm gonna guess that most people in those two towns wouldn't be able to live in the city unless they ended in allentown or hazelwood...or some other city neighborhood that's dirt cheap. but you won't find many millvaleans buying new digs in shadyside.

Sam M

Sean wrote:

"real estate in shadyside isn't any cheaper than property in downtown.


Well, yes it is. At least that's what the City Paper article reported:

"Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Management showed that it’s far more expensive to live in the Golden Triangle than even the priciest communities, whether as a condo-owner or as a renter. For example, a two-bedroom condo Downtown costs, on average, $9,000 in annual maintenance fees, compared to $2,052 in Shadyside and $4,200 in Mount Lebanon."

But I am even more interested in Sean's notion that subsidized downtown housing will draw people from Shadyside--which will lower prices in Shadyside and draw people in from the suburbs. That's a really interesting theory. And a coherent one. Only it's too bad that does not appear to be the theory that development officials are working under.

As "O" pointed out for us a few posts back, the city is building "replacement housing." It is not building "additional housing." That is, the city is not building this housing in hopes of adding people to the urban population count. In fact, it appears that all of the suppositions under which the city is working take steady population as a given.

So the plan Sean has outlined cannot be the plan currently being implemented. Because the plan he has outlined requires an influx of residents from the suburbs to take up the slack in Shadyside and similar neighborhoods.

I suppose you could just assume that the population will, in fact grow due to the additional housing. But to be optimistic about that plan you would have to be glad that the city is spending tens of millions on its own faulty reasoning. I don't know. That doesn't inspire confidence in me.

So if the city is correct and the housing is only going to be replacement housing and the people are not going to come from Shadyside and they are not going to come from Cranberry and they are not going to come from Wilkinsburg... Where are they going to come from? Or is the city wrong? And if it is, should we trust such people to lead redevelopment? Or is the city lying? And if it is, should we trust such people to lead redevelopment?

As for John's desire for a "housing glut," don't we already have one? I think we do, if you measure that by taking a look at affordability. Housing in Pittsburgh is cheap compared to other places.

And if there is, in fact, a huge pent-up demand for semi-affordable housing, isn't it a problem that the current plan is, in fact, building the most expensive housing in the city? The artists and writers and other creative types that John wants to draw cannot afford to live in the Encore. They cannot afford to live with Mark Cuban.

But they can afford to live in Garfield and Lawrenceville and Bloomfield and Mexican War Streets, etc. And they appear to be moving there.

Whatever the case may be, I think that the current plan leaves us both out in the cold. Because the people we are talking about are not going to become part of the Forbes-Fifth population unless something changes.

And like I said all along, I am not all that sure that the city would, in fact, be better off if bargain hunters moving in from Philly and NYC moved into the Golden Triangle rather than Wilkinsburg or Polish Hill or any one of the other neighborhood currently littered with "for sale" signs.

And as for Sean, I went over my views on Pitt's operating budget a few posts back. I refer you to that discussion.

Sam M

And an addendum:

If development planners do, in fact, hope to add population to the city by subsidizing high-end condos, why not just say so?

I suspect that, institutionally, "developers" have learned to hedge. The city's population is a finite, measurable number. So if they promise 10,000 new faces in 10 years,someone is going to count. And if that number is 8,000, or 2,000, or some other such figure, it would be possible to call the plan a "failure."

So instead of being specific, you speak in generalities. Take a look at what people really promise when they build a convention center or a stadium. No matter what the structure is or how it impacts the city--even when it is in a negative way--the solution is always, "more." Convention center not working? Well, that's not the convention center's fault! We just need a hotel. Hotel not working? We just need a few skyscrapers. Skyscrapers not working? A stadium will do the trick. Stadium not working? Of course not. We need residential. Residential not working? Well, what did you expect? It's been 20 years since we built the convention center, and as everyone knows, the key to a functioning downtown is an updated convention center. With hotels and tunnels and stadiums and residential and Maglev to serve it.

Now about that funding...

sean mcdaniel

actually, sam, i don't think that prices in shadyside will ever come down. seriously, i was just saying, if they did...

i do think that a good bit of the new downtowners will come from places like fox chapel, mt. lebo, where empty nesters are looking to reduce square footage and maintenance. and i don't see housing prices going down there, either, as younger couples who are settling into careers and enjoying higher salaries move from starter homes in monroeville or bellevue or even cranberry to new places in f. chapel and mt. lebo. trust me, the poor are staying put...until j. morris and his crew start transforming blighted neighborhoods into art gallery meccas.

as for those maintenance fees, damn, now i can buy one place each in shadyside and mt. lebo...since they're such great bargains. they're all pricey. so maybe shadyside is the new starter neighborhood for the investment bankers and their ex-cheerleader pharmaceutical sales rep wives.

do you have something against people moving from one neighborhood to another? hell, that's one of the biggest and dumbest mindsets in this town...you can't leave the southside for the northside or vice versa. should someone live in bloomfield forever and never think of dwelling in brookline?

as for pitt, i'll stick with my contention...take away the state support and non-profit status (or pay the help like most non-profits pay their employees) and let's see how long pitt stays at the forefront of anything...from medical research to basketball.

Sam M

Sean,

So you DO think the population is going to increase?

I mean, if 5,000 people move out of Shadyside to partake of the downtown condos and 5,000 people from Monroeville and Cranberry move to Shadyside to replace those 5,000, the city population goes up by 5,000, right? Or am I missing something?

If that's what you think, fine. But that's not what you have said in the past. And it's not what the people who deigned the plan say is going to happen. I repeat--the people who designed the plan say that is not going to happen.

Moreover, which neighborhood gets screwed? because if the population of the metropolitan area stays relatively stable, you only have so much need for housing. So downtown fills up with people from Shadyside. Which fills up with people from Mt. Lebo and Fox Chapel. Which fill up with people from Cranberry. Which fills up with people from... ?


And who said I have anything against people moving from one neighborhood to another? I didn't. If you think I did, please provide a link.

I said I was against city hall picking which neighborhood wins and which one loses.

Or, more specifically, what I want people to take into account is that if the population stays the same and the available housing stock increases, some landlord in some neighborhood is going to be pissed.

And if that extra housing stock is being built by people who are using connections at city hall and Harrisbug to lower their costs, unsubsidized landlords have every right to ask a few questions.

Let's be clear. I am not one of those landlords. In fact, as you have mentioned, I might even stand to gain from this boondoggle. If everyone in Pittsburgh gets a better apartment for the same amount of money they are paying now, that includes me.

I just don't think that amounts to good public policy.

This is econ 101. All things being equal (things like population, which every planner I know of is assuming will see little gain in Pittsburgh) if you subsidize the supply of a commodity (like housing) you will get more of it. And if you have more of it, the price will fall.

And unless everyone receives the same subsidy (in the form of, say, a $1,000 housing tax credit for every member of your household) there will be winners and there will be losers.

Now, we often accept this. People without kids subsidize schools for people who do have kids. People who do not fly pitch in for airports. People who do not drive help pay for roads.

But at times things start to look a bit skewed. Like when the people getting the subsidies are at the very, very top of the economic order. And the best people at other levels can hope for is that everyone will move up.

Hell, like I've said, I am a pretty libertarian guy. But I have a lot less problem with the government subsidizing housing for old people (see the City Paper article) than I do with them subsidizing the rooftop deck for that lady who admits she is at the top of the food chain.

I would also have less of a problem if the plan was in any way coherent.

I would also have a lot less of a problem if the city were just honest: They want to spruce up downtown because their redevelopment plan is the same as it always was: Fix Pittsburgh's image.

Let's make it all squeaky clean. Let's have a Cheesecake Factory. So when people come for the Pirates game they will go back home and talk about what a pretty city it is. The mills are gone, don't you know?

Image, image. image. We've been reimagining Pittsburgh for 70 years. All while half the people have left town. For other places. Other places that have actually changed instead of talking about it.

If it really were about using that coirridor for its highest use, they would have an auction and sell the properties to people who think they have a good idea for how to use them. Some would succeed. Others would fail. And in the end we would get some kind of place. A real place. Who knows, maybe the Piatt's would still give it a go.

But we don't know if they would. Because, just like they have done every decade since the 1940s, the city has taken a top-down approach so they can control what goes in there.

And never forget--what's there now is a direct result of that kind of top-down approach.

You still think it will work. After six or eight tries, you still have faith.

I don't.

sean mcdaniel

look, there's a finite number of people, regardless. what if they new downtowners come from cleveland or cincinnati. does it matter if that's where they come from?

and seriously, you're not a fan of the suburbs and seem to think that they're part of the city's woes...so if the suburbs empty out to fill up downtown...is that a problem?

and yeah, call me an optimist...because those nail salons downtown aren't attracting any new people.

and jesus stop with the cheesecake factory triteness. there are only about 30 of them in the entire country. they're not the wal mart of restaurant chains.

and one more thing about pitt...do you know why it's a state related institution? because in the mid 1960s it was teetering on bankruptcy...so it went to the state for, what's the word...subsidies...at the time, 50 percent of its budget came from the state...sure it's weaning itself...but pitt (and oakland, for better or worse) wouldn't be what it is today without the state's help. so i guess that was one government subsidy that worked out well. then again maybe pennsylvania should have said, kiss our ass, pitt. and today the cathedral of learning might be the cathedral of living...a high rise condo in the midst of a diverse, thriving RESIDENTIAL neighborhood...not just the most significant landmark in an educational research park that could just as easily be located in...gasp...cranberry township.

hey, maybe pitt would have made it without the state money 40 years ago. but damn those government social scientists could help but tinker, instead of reverting to some sort of urban/educational darwinism. but hey, look who has a job these days as a result. and by the way, just how many pitt employees stick around oakland after quitting time? seriously...and how many of them ever talk about how cute oakland is? even with its pretty new carousel?

sean mcdaniel

sam,

back to the pitt issue...for 2006 the school received $175 million from the state...that's a lot of money...even if it accounts for only 12 percent of the budget...you tell me what would happen to the university without that $175 million...or the more than $180 million the school wants next year? would it cut jamie dixon's salary to a more modest $500,000 (down from a reasonable $900,000 or so). would dave wannstadt take a voluntary pay cut...would the chancellor...would you...so that the school could take that big of a hit?

Sam M

Sean asks:

"look, there's a finite number of people, regardless. what if they new downtowners come from cleveland or cincinnati. does it matter if that's where they come from?"

Well, uh, yes. It does matter.

Because if they come from out of town, they will be new residents absorbing the new housing coming on to the market.

But if they come from within the city, it will simply be shifting tenants from landlords who don't have connections to landlords who do.

If you really can't understand why it matters... Well, then I am really at a loss.

I suppose the only thing I can do is provide an analogy.

Let's say the city decides that the one thing that will revitalize Bloomfield is a fancy pizza shop. The kind of place that sells $50 pies. But everyone knows that no pizza guy in his right mind is going to make that kind of investment. The ovens are different. The more attentive service required. Who would risk it?

Well, ever the optimists, the city decides to subsidize Piatt's Pizza. Just to get things started. In fact, they are going to give Mr. Piatt so much money that he can actually charge only $25 per pie. More than what's currently for sale, sure. But it makes it more reasonable.

So will this be a success? Depends. Most critically, there are already a lot of pizza places in Bloomfield. They already serve a lot of customers. So to really gauge the success of this effort, we need to assess WHERE THE CUSTOMERS FROM PIATT'S PIZZA ARE COMING FROM.

See, it's only a success if the people eating the fancy pizza are new pizza eaters. In fact, they would need to be new eaters altogether. Why? BECAUSE SHIFTING PIZZA BUYERS FROM ANGELO'S and PIZZA ITALIA DOES NOT DO ANYTHING TO REVITALIZE BLOOMFIELD. All it does is shift people from one pizza place to another. Moreoever, it also doesn't help if the new pizza eaters used to be eating fish sandwiches at Armands. Because that is still just shifting eaters.

No. This only adds to the community if the pizza at Piatt's is so good that news of it travels far and wide, and people who would not normally eat in Pittsburgh at all suddenly begin making the trip.

ANYTHING ELSE IS JUST SHIFTING CUsTOMERS AMONG RESTAURANTS.

And here's the thing: What would you say if people proposing revitalizing Bloomfield in this way admitted that there would be no new eaters. What if they said, "This is not a new pizza shop. It is a replacement pizza shop."

Then I think it would make sense for the owners of Armands and Angelos and Pizza Italia to ask, "OK. Which one of us is being replaced?" And I think it would make sense for the rest of us to say, "Sounds like a bullshit revitalization plan to me." Because they are actually admitting that it won't work.

Honestly. Can't you see that? Or are you being willfully obtuse? Because it is so obvious to me that it matters where the "new" residents for the "new" neighborhood come from that to act like it doesn't matter seems insane.

And no. I am not against shifting. If Mr. Piatt wants to build his own pizza shop and give Angelos a run for their money, great. I just think that, as an economic development proposition, it doesn't make much sense to favor one over the other.

(Typos fixed. At least some of them.)

John Morris

Whatever, what the people themslves said in the article spoke for itself. No Sean living within walking distance of work and the kind of convenience a true high density nieghborhood would bring is not just like living in Millvale ! or in a flood plain in Sharpsburgh. We are comparing completly different lifesyles and levels of convenience.

"But even for the young professionals such loft housing is supposed to attract, it’s not easy paying for it. Bucciero’s two-bedroom place costs $1,600 a month. After graduating from college in Erie, Bucciero was determined to live on her own. But the high rent Downtown compels her to pair up with a roommate, four of which she’s had within the past year"i

And while she enjoys the high life of Downtown, she doubts many of her peers can afford to taste it."

That sounds like someone who doesn't think it's the same. The fact that someone would take on roomates in order to be there may indicate a rabid audience for this stuff. As to the demand for afordable urban it is absolutely huge as the east coast housing shortage indicates.

really the assertion that there is no demand from out of town is brought here without any supporting facts at all. More than anything else it indicates just how deep the self loathing runs here.
the main thing that came out in the article is a that a lot of people seemed interested in living downtown, people were angry that it wasn't an option for them.

Can we at least compare things on asemi equal basis? The kind of thing isn't remotely equal to Millvale. I want to make this clear-- I think there is a very good chance to attract a big number of people-- but the overwhelming majority of them are people interested in serious city life.
There is no need to move this far from NY, just to live in a depressed small town. Places like Scranton and a lot of smaller towns like it are close enough to NY. The thing that people would move for is a "NY" high convenience/ high diversity city at a low price. So the real choice is to offer that option or just fail to attract people into the region.


sean mcdaniel

sam, i don't where the people come from who might live downtown. honestly, i don't think there will be a new wave of immigration from cleveland and other places. so if that influx comes from the suburbs, so what? trust me, it's really not going to be an exodus from shadyside to downtown. i think we both know that...or squirrel hill...but as i've said over and over, the empty nesters from baldwin (an evil suburb) or murrysville (even more evil since it farther away from the city) will move downtown...and maybe some younger singles...or transient types who move from one job to another as their careers progress...or same sex couples...seriously, what's the uproar?

as for the $50 pizza, i wonder why Duquesne U. isn't the powerhouse around here that Pitt is? Could it be that $175 and more that Pitts receives from the state...so tell me why that isn't the same...and please explain how Pitt has changed the nature of Oakland isn't the same as the way you say subsidize for developers will change the nature of Downtown...some days, the only difference i can see between the central oakland business district and southside is that there really isn't a cheesecake factory on forbes avenue...yet...unless you think that starbucks, quizno's, jo mama's,panera, new balance and all the other chain stores are "authentically" oakland as opposed to the locally owned stores that had occupied those space for decades. trust me, once jay dantry retires, his book store is history. he keeps the place open out of love. the man doesn't need the money and probably could do without the aggravation, too, at his age. but he knows he's the last dinosaur on the block. that's what pitt has down for oakland. it's hastened the extinction of the local merchant.

seriously, sam, oakland is really pitt...at least in the central business district. these days, it would be mighty tough for a small business to make it there...because pitt not only gets money from the state...but it also doesn't have to pay property taxes. try explaining the fairness of all that to the owners of the beehive, or the O, of Kunst bakery (oh, that's right, they had to close a few years back because their traditional customers were gone and students favored panera bagels over doughnuts). as i said, thanks to pitt, the permanent residential population in that area is around 15 percent, far lower than it was 40 years...when Pitt started receiving state subsidies...to survive.

sean mcdaniel

hey, i meant to say that Pitt gets $175 million a year...not a measly $175 annually. That would barely cover the cost of two grad student bus passes...for a semester.

sam, the perks are all just an economy of scale...i have a brother-in-law who's a pathologist for UPMC...he makes $200,000 a year...and gets a free parking space in one of the garages...just like the 50 other pathologists he works with. Do you think the floor scrubbers get free parking?

So the question is...where do the perks stop...sure your bus pass cost is small peanuts...and one guy's $8/day parking is no big deal either (unless you are paying for a spot every day)...and even the chancellor's free mansion might not really add up to much (since the school doesn't pay property tax on it. of course if you live on the same street, you might get miffed about your annual $6,000 property tax bill)...but in the end...well, all those little perks and benes add up to millions. wouldn't be interesting to see the actual cost of the Pitt/UPMC freebie list?

so the question is, would pitt have survived without the state's help 40 years ago...and would the university be as highly regarded as it is today...or would it be the urban version of alleghany college now?

even more important...40 years ago...would you have said that state support of a poorly run and failing university was the wrong thing to do?

Sam M

Sean, you and I disagree about a lot of things. But I just don't think that this kind of comment holds water at all:

"trust me, it's really not going to be an exodus from shadyside to downtown. i think we both know that...or squirrel hill...but as i've said over and over, the empty nesters from baldwin (an evil suburb) or murrysville (even more evil since it farther away from the city) will move downtown...and maybe some younger singles...or transient types who move from one job to another as their careers progress...or same sex couples...seriously, what's the uproar? "

So in your mind, the kind of person with the personal, cultural and economic preferences that led him to live in Murrysville is a more likely candidate for downtown living than the kind of person with the personal, cultural and economic preferences that have led him to live in Shadyside? Do you know anyone in Shadyside? Do you know anyone in Murrysville? Seriously. Why did the Murrysville person mover there? Because of convenience and nightlife? Proximity to cultural amenities? I know people who live in Murrysville. And that's not what they care about.

I also know people who live in Shadyside. And to a large degree, that's EXACLY what they care about.

My gosh, I feel like you have come completely unhinged, or are just throwing things out there to be argumentative.

But an even bigger problem with your analysis is that as far as the planners are concerned, IT DOESN'T MATTER IF THE NEWCOMERS ARE FROM ONE MILE OUTSIDE THE CITY, OR 1,000 MILES OUTSIDE THE CITY. Because if you believe what they are saying, NO ONE IS COMING FROM OUTSIDE THE CITY. Or if they are , its only enough to replace people who are leaving. That is, there will be no influx. No influx from NYC. No influx from Cleveland. No influx from Murrysville. No influx from Cranberry.

Because if there were an influx from Cranberry, we would still need additional housing in the city. Because Cranberry is not in the city. So that would mean additional residents in the city. Which no one is planning for. Because they do not expect them to come.

Only you do.

Strange.

In the meantime, if you are so fired up about the relative histories of Pitt and Duquesne, here are some places for you to start researching:

http://www.duq.edu/frontpages/aboutdu/history.html

http://www.pitt.edu/history/index.html

As for whether Pitt could have become a major research institution without being a "state-related institution," it became such an institution in 1966.

Jonas Salk developed his vaccine at the University quite some time before that.

So, uh, yes. It could have become a major research institution without being a state related university. And how do we know that? Er, because it did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonas_Salk

For more information about the role Catholic Universities play in the larger system of higher education, you might try this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0226616614/sr=8-2/qid=1155405584/ref=sr_1_2/102-9828808-5944955?ie=UTF8

Or this:

http://www.saintmarys.edu/president/accuplenary20506.html

The last of these is nicely footnoted for further research. That is, if you are actually interested in answers to your questions rather than assasinating someone's character.

"O"

I keep coming in late on these discussions, dammit.

The economics of the downtown middle class are interesting. Building for rich people is easy as you can build units that will sell and/or operate for more or equal to the sales prices and/or rents. Building for poor people is also interesting as you can build units that will sell and/or operate for more or equal to the sales prices and/or rents plus federal low income subsidies.

It's the middle class housing, by virtue of their "middle" status, that is difficult to do: the buyers aren't rich enough to afford the high cost of development and they aren't poor enough to qualify to the generous federal subsidies which would help underwrite this development. (Thus the City subsidies, including land assembly, tax breaks, and loan interest loans/grants.)

The comments to this entry are closed.