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John Morris

I agree that some serious study should go into who is choosing to buy or rent units downtown. The fact that there seems to be a bit of speculative buying by out of town investors from urban areas like NY, shows that I am not alone in seeing potential in the area and guessing that the first folks to appreciate it would be people with experience booming urban real estate markets like NY. I think that more than a few think that they can convince out of town folks in.

I know someone who works at the cultural trust's residential development and from he say's, a lot of the people in the building are very wealthy business types who travel a lot or have places in several cities and see this as better than staying in hotels.

A lot of this reflects the fact that so many cities have seen downtown booms and Pittsburgh stands out as a weird exception.

The more dubious aspects of the Piatts project may relate to it's retail and office components. The likely result of the plan is that current downtown tenants shift from older needle type buildings that are not class A to the more desirable open layouts. That will leave those buildings empty and ready for conversion to residential use.

Paul Galvanek

I'd be very dubious about the claims of these units being sold and what it means. For example Walnut Capital purchased a former nursery in my old neighborhod of Sq Hill and built 12 units at the corner of Beechwood Blvd and Wilkins Ave. They "pre-sold" three of the units and plastered the fact in ads all over the area presumably in the hope of ginning up some - hurry before they're gone insterest. However if you look at the tax records it appears two of the "pre-sold" units were transfered at dramatically below the asking price and three years later the other nine units remain unsold despited reductions in the asking price.

I'm not certain what if any rules exist to cover such claims, but seeing as how the city's real estate market is already awash in unsold million dollar condos I'd take the "pre-sold claims with a huge grain of salt.

C. Briem

I think I have stated before here that if you go and look at a lot of downtown resdients in places like Chatham towers, it looks like many are out-of-town residents at least part of the year. Elderly snowbirds who want to maintain a presence in the region possibly. But it does get to an important point that non-resident owners of downtown condo's are probably not going to contribute to city income tax the way full time residents would. That is the issue. Beyond that, is there something wrong with out of town residents seeing investment opportunity in town? It's a different matter altogether is ahbsentee landlords are investing and not investing in property that impacts a neighborhood negatively.. but that isnt exactly the case if people are buying up high end condos.

Mark Rauterkus

Go around at Sommerset at Frick (new development) and ask where they lived before they lived there.

Then see if they are the first residents in that unit.

Do the same at Washington's Landing.

Do the same at South Side, in the new homes.

I know that a lot of the new houses on the South Side just be a few years ago have been turned a lot of times. People move in and move out of these condos / apartments at breakneck speeds when contrasted with the rest of the city.

Paul Galvanek

You know as interesting as I find the discussions here, I have to say that I'm somewhat surprised at what never seems to get discussed, here or anywhere else in the local media. Taxes, jobs, development, education, public transportation etc etc discussion after discussion about the numbers and barely a word about the people making the decisions.

Instead of hearing Chris's thoughts on jobs numbers I'd really be more interested in hearing whether he thinks the efforts he was part of to redraw county council district, efforts the ultimately gerrymandered districts into existence for Michael Finnerty, James Burn and almost took down Drozd ultimately helped the region? Ask any resident of my former Sq Hill neighborhood and they'll be happy to tell how friendly a place it is, right after they've finished vandalizing the homes and property of the handful of their neighbors who dare to belong to anything other than the Democrat Party during an election cycle. Read one of Dan Frankle or Doug Shields's shrieking, anti-conservative, anti-Christian taxpayer paid for screeds they send out and you'd think something other than their own party had been in control of the city for the last 60 years.

As someone else pointed out, Butler County snares 3,000 engineering jobs, many from Allegheny County and the clowns who were on duty when it happened busily finding a way to spend more tax money on billionaire Burkle's plaything will get rewarded with more time in office. In a very short time all the people who've been at the helm throughout the decline or their anointed underlings will get re-elected, most of them running unopposed, to keep doing what they've doing all along.

It true what they say; the more things change, the more they stay the same and the is ultimately why the region will never move forward.


What's the Democrat party that I have been hearing about lately? Is that a counter to the Republic party?

Paul Galvanek

It is the more grammatically correct label for the left leaning politic party that began as the Democratic Republican Party. Republican, being a noun, is actually a proper label/name for a party than supports a republic form of government. Democratic, which is an adjective, really makes no sense except for the purpose of co-opting the warm fuzzy feeling associated with the democratic process. Republicans belong to the Republican Party, Democrats belong to the Democrat Party which are both part of the democratic process in the US.

Leave it to the left to kick the English language to the curb the and change name of their party so as to wrap itself in a ridiculously inaccurate and self-serving title.

Living in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, watching the chronic vote buying, ballot stuffing, the gerrymandering and numerous other shenanigans intended to crush opposition parties and pervert the democratic process carried out by people who like to call themselves Democratic is more than a bit ironic. In the end though they can call themselves whatever they want and it doesn't change their thuggish, collectivist, anti-democratic nature one bit.

Calling them the Democrat Party serves to remind that there's nothing at all democratic about the Democratic Party. In the end though they can call themselves whatever they want and it doesn't change their thuggish, collectivist, anti-democratic nature one bit.

Paul Galvanek

Boss Tweed would be proud...


Paul Galvanek

Here's an updated link to the story I posted yesterday. It raises another issue that doesn't get address but really should.


"The crew, which is managed by a confidant of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and includes Mr. Koch's campaign treasurer, was cleaning an Allentown lot owned by a relative of a supporter of the councilman's campaign."

So why then are city workers and resources being used to clean private property, let alone that which is owned by politically connected people?

Of course having lived in Squirrel Hill for many years and witnessed all manner of such abuses of public resources it's really no surprise to read yet again of such an incident.

Make sure yinz run out and vote for the Democrats in city and county government then come on back and we can discuss why the region is in such dire straits.


Oh great more wingnut ranting. I guess you got your fast food from Hannity today.

I bet you raised your hand too, when Chris Matthews asked about evolution. Or maybe you were watching the Pat Robertson pray for the destruction of the State Department (or one of Pat's other greatest hits)... or watching the latest on the Department of politics, er uh, I mean "Justice." This would be the same department that AG Ashcroft was more concerned about covering up the breasts of the statue of justice than of his responsibilities.

Please go on and tell us the virtues of W and Abramoff and Cheney. Don't forget about Santorum, Newt, and DeLay.

Please tell us about Cheney's "energy" meetings with Ken Lay.

Spare me the contrived anger over the name of a political party that was adopted long ago and tell me why you support the above.

Yes tell more about the Republic party and it's war on rational thought, common sense, and science, and yes on Democracy.

Oh I mean it's war on Democrat.

Paul Galvanek

"wingnut ranting" hmmm, okay I'll go with it. Guess what though Joe, there's no getting around the fact that the parts of the countries which are inhabited by ranting wingnuts are thriving, growing places with children and families while Pittsburgh and Allegheny County have been under domination of the loony left for nearly 60 years and well... their disastrous results are what where here to discuss at antirust.

Sweden, Australia, Germany and now France, everyone is moving away from their failed socialist experiments... everyone except the Democrats in their rust belt strongholds. You just keep pulling that D lever and expecting a different result and we'll see where we are 5, 10 or 20 years from now.


Good job (well not really) in giving a pass to folks in the burbs who rape the city and skip on the tab. "Loony Left" that's funny.

I would say that the GOP is funnier, but there's nothing funny about lies to go to war, or outing a CIA operative for political purposes, or in fact, turning the entire Federal government into Karl Rove's toolbox.

So do you agree with the three GOP candidate to who rejected science at the debate?

The failed social experiment is conservatism. It failed in the 20th Century and again now (sure didn't take long for it to bomb in the 21st did it?).

Looney is a good word for someone who blames industrial decline on the left, while steel is dumped into the U.S. for years, while manufacturing is sent to Third World Countries because evil unions refuse to work for 10 cents a week.

Until you and Harrisburg agree to consolidate government to reflect Pittsburgh's rantings are irrelvant.

Go Hannitize someone else with childish rhetoric from the great infotainers. I hope that you at least got "fries with that."

John Morris

I miss the German Democratic Republic.

Jonathan Potts


Much as I share your annoyance with our Republican friend here, it is ridiculous to say suburbanites "rape" the city. If the city had shrunk services over the years to match the decline in population, if the URA had not swallowed up so many properties in the pursuit of failed redevelopment schemes, and if local government regulation were not so excessive, the city might not be in such sorry shape right now. And in case you are wondering, I am a city resident.

Paul Galvanek

And now we clearly see it demonstrated why the region has no chance what so ever of pulling itself out of it's death spiral. Rape the city, HA! That's a good one.

The only people being raped are the residents of the city who are being raped of their money so the corrupt leadership can keep the entrench system of graft, nepotism and cronyism humming along. Keep taxing the people who remain in order to construct new buildings for billionaire business men while your jobs move elsewhere and then deflect attention away from with idiotic references to the CIA and Karl Rove... keep dodging the issues plaguing the region.

Nothing is ever going to change here until people like you pull you heads out of your rears and face the reality of what 60 years of continuous anti-businesses, pro-government, regulate everything to death Democrat control has done here.

Paul Galvanek

Don't worry John, the numbers of us annoying Republicans is declining along with everything else. Someday, in the not to distant future, the last few thousand remaining Demcorats can sit around the welfare office patting each other on the backs talking about how you showed us, like the unemployed steel workers used to do on their bar stools.

Nothing is changing until the politics of the region changes and that's all there is to it.

Jonathan Potts

Don't misinterpret my comment. I'd love to see a vigorous Republican Party in the city of Pittsburgh. If you follow what I write here and elsewhere, you'll see I'm no fan of the local political establishment.

John Morris

I think Paul's views are pretty typical. The political divide-- on taxes, regulaton, unions etc between the city and a lot of it's suburbs, better explains why people choose to live in or the city or not than most of the stuff Sam talks about on this blog.


No Paul's views assumption that liberals like myself see issues through a political view on local issues.

I do think that the burbs take heavily from the city and that is not sustainable. I also think that local leaders leave a LOT to be desired.

However, people didn’t flee to the burb because of bad leadership. They fled because of the reasons that people fled every urban area. It just so happens that many younger cities can keep expanding their borders to encompass suburbs within their tax base. Others fled the area entirely as we all know, due to the collapse of big industry. Blaming this collapse on liberals or similarly on unions would be such an ignorant Hannityesque point, it’s not worth the time

But AGAIN, Harrisburg must step up. The burbs must be a part of this. And what’s the reaction? “Oh I won’t give my money to the corrupt incompetent city” As if it would be the same city, the same entity at all, if most of the county were a part of it. It’s truly self realizing prophecy in cutting the city off and leaving it for dead. I am ok with leadership of the new Pittsburgh being Fox Chapel or Upper St Clair Republicans. Fine go for it. Please step up for once.

Sam M


I don't set the agenda. I talk about what's happening. When it's tax abatements, I talk about tax abatements. When it's new condos, I talk about new condos.

It just so happens that when anyone around here talks about "revitalizing" the area, they almost always talk about building some fancy-pants new project, be it a stadium or what have you. Over the past few years, that has shifted a bit to grand residential schemes.

I wish it hadn't. But it has.

Believe me, i certainly wich that the chatter was more about becoming more business friendly and deconstructing the hideous politicial machine around here. Regardless of party affiliation (I have never had one) 60 years of single-party rule seems pretty bad. Hell. I wouldn;t care if the Socialist Party took control for a while. The Whigs. Bull Moose.

Not so much for what they might build or achieve, but for what they might destroy. Namely, the system. Or more properly, it would force the established system to at least evolve a bit.

But it ain't gonna happen. I thought Peduto might be at least a whiff of fresh air.

Ha! Sometimes I am even dumber than most people think I am.

John Morris

I guess that's the difference between you and me. I see blogging and other alternative media as a new way to potentially set the agenda and talk about things that should be.

I think youve done a pretty good job at showing most media here to be pretty brain dead and unwilling to rock the boat or put serious effort into a lot of research. What is the point of having them dictate what you blog about?

Sam M


All good points. But there is a problem. I am a pretty libertarian guy. And Amercian cities are about as far from libertarian rule as you can get. For a lot of reasons. And Pittsburgh is pretty far down the list. So what would it mean for me to prattle on about how I think things out to be? To be honest, I don't think it would be all that interesting. Because it would amount to something like this: "Hear about that new project? I'm against it. Just like that other one. And that other one. And that other one. I heard the mayor cam out with a new plan today. I didn't really listen. But I'm against it."

That is, my version of government is pretty boring and disinteresting. I don;t think it should do most of the things it does. SO what to do? Well, I blog pretty much like I live. I let most of it slide until something really strikes me as odd or interesting.

So what are the problems in Pittsburgh. Crime? Sure. But my solution to the crime problem is to stop the drug war, give it 10 years, then see what to do next.

Schools? Some sort of voucher system might be a good idea.

Taxes? I suspect the need for them might go do if we eliminated the drug war and had a voucher system. But maybe not. We'd have to see.

THing is, politics works best when you can chat about what you are going to "do" for certain constituencies. But my plan would be to do as little as possible.

Like you said, my residential revitalization proposal would be to ban the URA, or maybe reduce its size by 90 percent and take all its power away. I would cancel the checks for PNC and the Piatts. If they stopped their projects, I would try to shame them into completing then. And then maybe condemn them if they stopped. Or maybe sue them for something else.

I would issue a decree that, during my tenure, I would not spend even two cents of city money to save the Pirates or the Penguins and the Steelers.

I would shame prosecutors into locking up people who commit crimes with guns, a la Richmond, VA.

But I don;t kn ow how to talk about any of this stuff when the city is a billion mile away from it. People just don;t agree with me about this stuff.

In fact, people around here still seem to think that saving sports franchises is an important government function. But the very worst thing, I think, is the fact that so many people are still invested in the idea that the Renaissance worked. I am not saying that nothing good came of it. But people still casually refer to any project as the "next Renaissance," as if there were no problems with the previous ones.

So occasionally, I try to poke some wholes in that theory. But to little effect, of course. Too many people are invested in the myth.


Sam one of the problems I see is that "talking about what's happening" rarely if ever includes talking about what's constantly happening around here; city council members misusing public resources to clean up their campaign supporters private property, engage in illegal campaign activities, steal money by way of fake contracts, just recent examples of how a small number of people continue to misuse resources to stay in control that is SOP in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Anyone who doubts you won't be able to draw a line from Luke Ravensthal, Dan Onorato and James Burn to Ron Burkel's Arena and right back to their campaign coffers is simply in denial. William Peduto runs a cool games, but from his days working for Dan Cohen and on he's part of the same small groups.

The annoying Republican might just as well be a Libertarian, a Green or even a Democrat who is unable or unwilling to pay the bribes or make the contributions to the machine that are required to have you voice heard.

Contrary to JoeP's assertion I most certainly did leave the city and move to the suburbs because of bad leadership. Because my school district representative, city council member, state representatives and Congressman wouldn't even bother to respond to my inquiries until I first agreed to put campaign signs in my yard and those of my relatives, make a campaign contribution or somehow meet on of their other demands. I know business owners who shut down and moved out the city because they got tired of having pay the "consultants" - retired city employees and/or relatives of theirs in order to get a building code variance or some such request.

Money to the Piatts, PNC, Burkle, McClatchy, Rooney's for useless tunnels... it's the same thing - if you want to be heard in local politics you have to ante up first.

Considering the number of people that actually even bother to vote in local elections anymore it's beyond belief that independents, Republicans, Greens and Libertarians haven't figured out away to get together to put one outsider into office.

John Morris

Sam, you really should listen to what is being said.

It's not about a preference for big houses or grass --Government- is the reason not to live in Pittsburgh.

Sam M

John, I agree that it's one of the reasons. But it's not the only one. Not every city in America has had really crappy leadership across the board. But almost all of them are experiencing "sprawl" to one extent or another. Even Portland. Same with cities in Europe, where more and more people are shifting to 'burbs despite a lot of reasons not to.

Maybe it just comes down to people we know. I know a lot. I am sure you do, too. But believe me. Let's say we could find a way to put only pure geniuses on charge of every city government in America. And we could find a way to undo all the damage that has been done to American cities over the past 60 years. And we could fix city schools. Lower city crime levels to those experienced in the best suburbs. have perfect and perfectly affordable public transit. etc. Etc. Etc.

The vast majority of people I know who live in the suburbs would ramin exactly where they are. They would not move a single inch.

They would rather kill themselves than live in an apartment. Or a condo. Or anything else smacking of "city living." Sure, maybe something like a single-family home in Squirrel Hill. But only maybe.

I guess we willl just have to agree to disagree about this, but the people I know who live in the suburbs love it. They love the shit out of it. They love it so damn much, it makes your affinity for urban living pale in comparison. They LOVE big box centers. They love driving to them. They love their back yards. They love not having sidewalks. A whole bunch of them love Wal-mart. Those who don't love Target. They have no interest in going to the theater more than maybe once every ten years or so. Same with museums. And to the extent that the DO like such things, they are more than hapy to drive into the city to experience such things. They love their SUVs. And could only love them more if they were bigger. Given enough money, most of them would, in fact, have a Hummer. Or a Land Rover, if they are environmentalists.

Are these people monsters? I don't think so at all. But even if they are, are they monsters we "created" by chasing them to the burbs with all these anti-city policies? I guess that might be the case. But even if it is, can you put the genie back in the bottle? Maybe so. Maybe so. Maybe we can make them not like these things. Or make them pay more for such things. But what doesn't make sense at all is to act like these people DON'T like these things. Some people don't. But a whole lot of people do. And despite what we might think, they have NO INTEREST whatsoever in living closer to downtown.

Yes, it surprises me. All the time. I talk to people my age. When they are looking for houses, they don't even consider anything in the city. Yes, for all the reasons you mention. Taxes. Crime. Schools. But those are not the only reasons. When they start talking about Cranberry, they get a glimmer in their eye, the same way you might when you are talking about Paris or Manhattan or London. They tell you about their yard and how big it is and how close they are to Home Depot and how the kids have a tree house and a special-order playhouse that backs up against the woods and cost $17,000. They talk about how they love, love, love how there is no traffic on their cul-de-sac, and how there is enough parking for his Lincoln Navigator, her Honda Civic, their minivan and maybe even a convertible she got right after college and just can't bear to part with.

I am talking about college kids I know, who define eventual success in terms of living in just such a place.

Again, I think you are right about the taxes and the leadership and the crime and the schools and all the rest. But I think you are wrong if you don't think that a lot of people live in the suburbs for other reasons. Namely, that they like living in the suburbs.

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