Nice dialog. First, let's remember that our pied piper of the creative class bolted town for a better job. Next, I can't imagine how anyone can confidently assert that Pgh has successfully reinvented itself; it's a work-in-progress at best. It's only in the last year or 2 that the URA has embraced the idea of managing it's shrinking population & its effects on its neighborhoods. Didn't the URA just turn 60?
Having spent 4 years at one of Pgh's preservation organizations, I dont' know what Chris is talking about with "a clear-eyed vision for what was worth preserving a enhancing". This city has a list scores long of National Register and National Register-eligible structures that were demoed w/o any meaningful public input or historic review. Anyone remember Syria Mosque? For those late in the game, there's the Epiphany Church rectory & school in the Hill]. And Mellon Arena is the next to go.
Is it the City that needs to check its prescription, or is it Chris?
And the de facto reason Pgh has been [relatively] unscathed by the mortgage crisis & ensuing worldwide recession [code for depression], is because there were so few housing starts to begin with; the towns that busted were the towns that had been booming. No boom here, that's for sure.
So when the world is faltering, slow, steady decline can look pretty good. I guess anything slow & steady looks good these days.
Charles is right in that, technically, there is a master plan on file, and it's the plan for the Isle of Capri, which includes an arena, casino, hotel & parking structure to support all 3. That plan died on Dec. 20 when Don Barden won the slots license. [Or did it?] There is no plan submitted by the Pens, the SEA, URA, or any other entity for the arena itself. You can call City Planning and ask yourself. A requirement for using state funds is a study of the historical significance of not just buildings being demolished, but any structures that can potentially be effected. In fact, it's called the Area of Potential Effect [APE]. The APE is, at a minimum, the entire development area, along with properties contiguous with it & opposite from it. So the APE would reasonable include all or part of Chatham Center, the buildings on the south side of 5th Avenue, Washington Plaza, and so on. Even the Mellon Arena site! But, the APE studied for the SEA included only the actual footprint of the new arena. It didn't even include the Epiphany Church, which has 3 of its 4 buildings being demolished as I type.
Here's the point: There are decisions to be made in the next 12 months for the Lower Hill and Uptown we will all be living with for the next 25-50 years. There is an opportunity [ne', imperative] to thoughtfully plan out what it CAN be for all stakeholders [preservationists among them] and create a wonderful, sustainable plan that serves everyone well. And, it can be done in time for the first puck to drop in the fall of 09.
Unfortunately, there is no process like that currently under way. The broader question is, "Why not?"
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