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Call in the troops! Downtown Partnership on territorial crusade

| Sunday, May 15, 2016, 11:30 p.m.
A rendering of the concourse at Nova Place, a redevelopment of the former Allegheny Center Mall in the North Side.
A rendering of the concourse at Nova Place, a redevelopment of the former Allegheny Center Mall in the North Side.

Not to suggest U.S. troops need to immediately liberate the North Shore, but the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's imperialist aggression has to be stopped.

The advocacy organization recently released its annual report, which lauded a surge in Downtown development. Particularly noteworthy is that most of the surge didn't occur Downtown.

Of the $636 million in projects either announced or under construction, only $146 million is happening in what most folks consider Downtown: The Golden Triangle between the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers.

To mask what otherwise would be a developmental decline, the partnership included projects in a new “Greater Downtown” area that also includes — take a deep breath — the North Shore, South Shore, Uptown, the Bluff, Lower Hill District and the Strip District to 31st Street, which is practically Lawrenceville.

In justifying this unprecedented expansionism, partnership officials essentially declared Downtown borders meaningless. Can you imagine if North Korea tried this tactic?

Suppose its supreme leader and goofball Kim Jong-un one day said, “You know, South Korea is so close to us we can hear its people arguing at night even with the windows closed. I think we'll unilaterally annex its capital of Seoul and all the plants that make cheap apparel for Wal-Mart.” The U.S. immediately would send tens of thousands of reinforcements for the 25,000 troops already protecting South Korea, if only to safeguard America's strategic interest in Lynyrd Skynyrd and Simpsons T-shirts.

One of the most significant “Greater Downtown” projects is Faros Properties' $200 million conversion of the former Allegheny Center Mall into the Nova Place tech hub. Being that the property is in the North Side, in a neighborhood officially known as “Allegheny Center,” there's good reason why it never was called the Downtown Center Mall.

What does Faros think about suddenly being a part of the new “Greater Downtown?” Company spokeswoman Gretchen D'Atri told the Trib that because Nova Place is a five-minute walk from Downtown, “We are Downtown.”

No you're not, and the Faros website inarguably indicates the company knows exactly where its $200 million development isn't located: “Set in the heart of Pittsburgh's NORTH SHORE (emphasis added), Nova Place offers a unique office setting in the city without the congestion of Pittsburgh's Downtown area.”

D'Atri probably was just attempting to protect her family and friends from possible reprisals from this ruthless expansionist regime. But denying the realities of geography only will embolden the partnership, perhaps to the point where next year it will expand its definition of Downtown Pittsburgh to include portions of Cleveland.

The emperor has no clothes, but this is not a problem a Simpsons T-shirt can resolve.

The imperialist aggressors have too much territory.

Eric Heyl is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com

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