Task force commissioned to offer plan to make Downtown Pittsburgh a more attractive destination
By Jeremy Boren
Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl stepped on a stage Wednesday in front of a wide vinyl banner cloaking a row of shuttered retail shops bought last year by Point Park University to transform into a performing arts center.
The spot on Forbes Avenue once was home to retail-stalwart Honus Wagner Co. sporting goods before its 93-year run ended because the family of owner Murray Shapiro no longer wanted to run it.
Ravenstahl, heralding a new retail revitalization strategy, said the Golden Triangle must become a more welcoming place to persuade a new generation of shop owners and shoppers to spend money and sustain restaurants, boutiques and clothing stores in the city's core.
“Some of our primary corridors do not provide the atmosphere that encourages people to walk around and to enjoy the quality shopping and dining that's available,” Ravenstahl said. “We've learned from success stories like Market Square and others that when we provide a welcoming environment, the foot traffic will follow and so, of course, will the investment.”
But this latest effort differs from the $5 million renovation of Market Square, completed in 2010. Instead of a dramatic, multi-million-dollar overhaul, improvements could happen gradually with a combination of public and private money, or not at all if city planners deem them unsound.
Ravenstahl asked a group of 36 developers, business owners and city officials known as the Downtown Retail Task Force to create a wish list — an ideal — of ways to improve Downtown streets.
Their ideas add up to about $18 million to $20 million in upgrades such as brighter street lighting, more street signs, wider sidewalks, additional bicycle lanes and racks, a brick “seat wall” along Forbes Avenue and privately funded building facade improvements.
They include virtual upgrades. One will create a database of vacant retail spaces to make it simpler for entrepreneurs to find a home. Another will market Downtown through an advertising campaign called “Get Downtown” and through a website at pghnow.org.
None of it is built into Ravenstahl's latest $65.7 million capital budget.
Other than a notation about $93,000 left over from a $1 million structural renovation of the City-County Building, the only money earmarked to improve Downtown specifically is $4 million split between 2014 and 2015 to upgrade 10 traffic signals on Smithfield, Stanwix and Ross streets and Fourth and Centre avenues.
The concepts in the mayor's retail plan are intended to be a guide as the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority, the nonprofit Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, Point Park University and other development-minded groups build in Downtown over the next three years, a period that roughly coincides with what Ravenstahl hopes will be his next term in office.
The primary election for the mayor's race is in May. In Democratic-laden Pittsburgh, the primary generally decides the winner.
Peter and Kimberly Coppola own Serendipity, a clothing and accessories store in Market Square. It was among several planned stops Ravenstahl made on a tour of Downtown's Fifth-Forbes corridor after the on-stage news conference on Forbes. Kimberly Coppola said she appreciates the atmosphere the city created around her business of five years.
“I literally have watched things transform around me from nothing to a construction zone to this. It's wonderful,” Coppola said of Market Square. “The city is helping to create a draw, but I still think there's a lot of people who don't know what it's like down here now.”
Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Marcellus shale driller Noble Energy Inc. sinks roots into Pittsburgh
- Dick’s Sporting Goods usiness brisk while American Eagle feels chill in profits
- ‘Fresher, different, lot more fun’ guide changes at Kings Family Restaurants
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Profit falls at American Eagle Outfitters on sales decline, charges
- PNC info sought in fraud investigation
- Samsung introduces free streaming radio service
- Regular IRA or Roth? Pick either
- Diaper makers do due diligence
- Alpha Natural Resources to pay record $227.5M in water pollution settlement
- Stocks dip on gloomy data from Asia