Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pittsburgh Building Boom

I'd like to be able to track how this AP story about all the construction going on in Pittsburgh's downtown propagates:

While bigger cities like Miami and Phoenix struggle with mass foreclosures and stalled housing projects, Pittsburgh is enjoying something of a renaissance as developers pour some $4 billion into its downtown.

Roberta Brandes Gratz, author of two books on urban development, including "Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown," said Pittsburgh's development is "really genuine" and leads to long-term success.

"Those cities that leveled a major portion of their downtown for a single mall have more of a problem in this economy and for the next at least five years," Gratz said. "The reality is that Pittsburgh is something of a model." ...

... Since 2001, when Pittsburgh began actively working to bring residents downtown, the population has more than doubled, from barely 2,500 in 2000 to 5,174 in 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

I don't know if Gratz is from Pittsburgh, but she made her name in New York City (where she currently resides) and has impressive credentials as a leading urban thinker. She isn't just another booster claiming that Pittsburgh is a model of success.

I'm not sure how long it will take for the rest of the country to catch on and if the recent, albeit modest, success might lend itself to another term for the boy mayor who continues to muddle his way through his current reign. But I doubt even Steelerstahl could screw this up. It is not a question of if Pittsburgh will grow, but one of how much. Better leadership could fuel a boom. Or, will "good enough" still hold sway?

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