"Pittsburgh's College Corridor" starts in downtown with Point Park University and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. In Uptown is, of course, Duquesne University. Oakland has Pitt, CMU and Carlow University. Lastly, there is Chatham University in Shadyside. Increasing the connectivity between these institutions, along with better transportation to and from the airport, should be priortiy one for economic development.
The biggest obstacle to realizing this vision is the barrier between downtown and Uptown. At the heart of the matter is Mellon Arena, which some residents would like to save. The Civic Arena effectively isolated the Upper Hill District and destroyed the Lower Hill District neighborhood. Reconnect the Hill with downtown and breathe life into the College Corridor.
Such a project is long overdue. The lack of prioritization is somewhat maddening, but that's urban politics for you. As Pittsburgh looks forward, the idea may become reality:
"When the arena was built, the Hill District was thriving. Unfortunately, we now see that in many ways the arena cut off access to this area and hampered its growth. With this new project, we want to fix that mistake," said Tess Mullen, Mr. Altmire's communications director.
"We're hoping that improving pedestrian access will help to revitalize the Hill District. It's important to remember that in many cases, increased foot traffic goes hand in hand with increased business revenues and job creation," she said.
The walkway at the new arena is estimated to cost $1.5 million. Named "Curtain Call," the 300-foot path would have what the designer calls a "quilted curtain skin" -- four curved stainless steel structures that would be the framework for a mosaic of up to 27,000 tiles bearing images and photographs of people and places in the Hill District.
Isolation of the Hill District has been brutal to the economic fortunes of that neighborhood. As gentrification has spread uprivers, it has largely skirted Uptown. Restoring connectivity to these two parts of Pittsburgh would put economic redevelopment into overdrive.
As a footnote, I haven't stopped thinking about ways to further the College Corridor. What if admission to one of the institutions of higher learning meant access to all? The nature of the access could be discussed, but the marketing potential of such an opportunity would be tremendous.