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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Strategic Planning Consultant Says Pittsburgh's Numbers look Good

Miller says Pittsburgh's doing better than some think
Pittsburgh Business Times
by Dan Reynolds

The former president of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development has issued his first report on Pittsburgh's economy as an independent consultant and the numbers, he says, are good. You just have to know how to read them.
Harold Miller, who since departing the Conference in November has formed his own consulting firm, Future Strategies LLC and Pittsburgh's Future, a strategic planning firm, issued the report this week.

What he found is that the Pittsburgh's job growth in high paying areas such as science, health care and engineering grew 13 percent between 1999 and 2004, almost double the national rate of seven percent.
In addition, job growth here for health care practitioners and health care technicians also far outpaced the national average, growing by 12 percent between 1999 and 2004, compared to a national average of seven percent.

Read More at the Pittsburgh Business Times

Pittsburgh Nation Comments:

As is often the case when looking at economic data about Pittsburgh, the numbers don't tell the whole truth. This study shows that Pittsburgh is adding high paying medical, science and engineering jobs at a rate double that of the rest of the country. As Mr. Miller correctly points out, the "population-dependant data" is often misleading. It is as much about the quality of the jobs created as the total number.

Since I started blogging, I have spent alot of time on Mr. Miller's website, and I have found it enlightening. Please visit the site to read the full report @
Monday, March 27, 2006

Pittsburgh Trials Could Be Major Step Toward Curing Diabetes

Doctors Seek Diabetes breakthrough
By Jennifer Bails
Monday, March 27, 2006

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh researchers are expected to receive federal clearance today to inject patients with their own genetically altered immune cells in what could be a major step toward curing type 1 diabetes.
"This is the first time that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel," said Dr. Massimo Trucco, Hillman professor of pediatric immunology at the Oakland hospital, who is leading the preliminary clinical trial approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Trucco, a native of Italy who has been hunting for a diabetes cure for more than 20 years, said his research team will be able to determine within six months if the vaccine is safe and then proceed with more extensive trials.
Type 1 diabetes affects about 1.3 million Americans whose lives depend on daily insulin injections.

Read More at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pittsburgh Nation Comments:

Pittsburgh's medical community has a long tradition of lifesaving developments, including curing Polio and performing the world's first double transplant.

Today, Pittsburgh is leading the fight against many diseases using 21st century technologies.

Read more about nanotechnology, regenerative medicine and immunology at
Saturday, March 25, 2006

East Liberty Redevelopment Continues

Lofts Planned at Former YMCA

By Ron DaParma
Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Colorado-based developer hopes to bring a mix of 50 to 60 loft-style condominiums and retail, office or community uses to a pair of East Liberty buildings, another step in that eastern neighborhood's revitalization.

A partnership headed by Mark Meiser, owner of Meiz Development Co. in Denver, recently entered an agreement to purchase the five-story former YMCA building at 120 S. Whitfield St. and a neighboring two-story structure on Penn Avenue that once housed a truck dealership.
Meiser and a partner, Denver businessman Michael Zeitlin, have hired Semple Brown Design P.C., (SBDesign), a national architecture and design firm with offices in Pittsburgh and Denver, to design the still-unnamed project.

The development, which could cost between $15 million and $20 million based on preliminary estimates, is envisioned as part of a wider development plan for a four-block area surrounding the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, dubbed East Liberty Town Square.

Read More at The Tribune Review

Pittsburgh Nation Comment:

As a former East Liberty resident, I am thrilled but not surprised to see so many great projects developing in the neighborhood. East Liberty has scored big coups in recent years with the addition of Whole Foods, and now Borders. Whole Foods draws people from around the region, and at times has required traffic police to handle the number of shoppers. The addition of residential units in the core of East Liberty will help cement the success started with the retailers.
Kudo's to East Liberty Development, Inc. for their tireless work for the neighborhood.

Did you Know:
At one point in it's history, East Liberty was the third largest shopping district in the State, behind downtown Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Big Start For 'Pittsburgh Roars' Planned Sunday

Pittsburghers are invited to make a lot of noise on Sunday at the official launch of "Pittsburgh Roars" -- a celebration of the region's arts, events and attractions, presented by more than 70 collaborative cultural, civic and community partners.
Enjoy free coffee and doughnuts, drumming, music and marching, starting at 9:30 a.m. outside the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History in Oakland.
Also, see the debut of the Pittsburgh Roars public art project -- giant inflatables, 20 to 30 feet high, designed by local artists and commissioned by The Sprout Fund to build interest in the region and to signify Pittsburgh Roars events and activities.
The celebration will continue inside the Carnegie Museum with the opening of the Fierce Friends exhibition and an ongoing showcase and sampling of Pittsburgh Roars partners.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Channel

Local Firm Angling to Hatch Series of Films in Steeltown

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Pittsburgh's reputation as a site for producing films has received a boost.
A local company plans to produce up to eight films a year for television and DVD sales and expects to begin production on the first film after July 4.
Steeltown Hatchery, based in Squirrel Hill, received approval this week for $150,000 in funding from the Allegheny County Redevelopment Authority. Additional funding will be obtained from a state grant and from private foundations to reach about $1 million, said Michael P. Pehur, the authority's project manager.
Each production is projected to employ between 110 and 140 workers and spend between $4 million and $5 million locally, he said.

Read More at The Tribune Review

Lofty Living: Downtown living now offers many different possibilities

Pricey condos and rental units are finding takers
Saturday, March 25, 2006By Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

James Stranahan had no doubt where he wanted to live when he boomeranged back to Pittsburgh last fall. Having lived in Miami and San Francisco, the 25-year-old commercial director wanted to be smack dab in the middle of all the action.
"I really wanted that urban, industrial feel," says Mr. Stranahan, who grew up in Mercer.
Last month, he found just that when he moved into a 3,000-square-foot loft in River City Flats, a new loft development on Forbes Avenue, Uptown. Located in a carefully restored turn-of-the-century linen factory, the 12 rental units offer exposed brick walls, extra-tall ceilings and huge windows with city views. There's also a rooftop deck and an outdoor courtyard for entertaining friends.
But what really sealed the deal, says Mr. Stranahan, was that he had a say in designing the loft space, which includes a sliding metal door between the two rooms and a kitchen bar made from plexiglass and metal. That, and the relatively "cheap" rent of $850 per month.
"It's urban living the way I always imagined it -- industrial but also modern," he says.

Read More in the Homes Section of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Photo by Andy Starnes, Post-Gazette

Friday, March 24, 2006

Pittsburgh's American Bridge May Build Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge...Again

American Bridge would Build New Span Replacing the Original Bridge it Built in 1936.

The American Bridge Co. came in with the lowest bid -- $1.43 billion -- to build the single-tower suspension span to complete the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business Times

Pittsburgh Nation Comments:

The original Bay Bridge is a source of great pride for Pittsburgh. When I say "Pittsburgh is the city that built America" This is what I am talking about. This bridge is one of America's wonderful landmarks, and it comes courtesy of Pittsburgh.
I am glad to see that the bridge will remain in our portfolio of American landmarks.

photo of original span

Robot City Coming to the Steel City

CMU plans Robot City
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Carnegie Mellon University wants to build a research center called Robot City at LTV's former Hazelwood Works to develop the next generation of robots.

CMU would use the space to build and test prototypes of robots that would plant grass, mow the lawn, harvest crops, provide cleanup, oversee security and do other tasks. University officials hope the move will bring Pittsburgh closer to living up to the monicker given it by The Wall Street Journal: "Roboburgh."

"The community has been waiting for an exciting vision for that site, and this could be it," said Maxwell King, president of The Heinz Endowments. "It's the kind of vision that can not only lead to an exciting neighborhood but to economic development for Pittsburgh."
The first step is to move a faculty-student research team that is developing robotic vehicles into an old roundhouse that once serviced steam locomotives. Renovations are expected to begin on the roundhouse this spring, and university officials hope to complete the move this year.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Proud Pittsburgh Comments:
This is a great development for Pitsburgh for a couple of reasons.

  • CMU is continuing it's role leading Pittsburgh into the 21st century and beyond. It seems that the promise of Pittsburgh becoming the hub of world robotics has taken a big step forward.
  • This development will showcase Pittsburgh's continued committment to reclaiming it's brownfield sites. By using the old steel mill sites as Robot City and South Side Works, we set an example to the entire nation.

Kudos to CMU! ( now lets build some robot manufacturing facilities )

Photo: CMU Robot Hall of Fame

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Nordstrom to open at Ross Park Mall

After Years of Speculation, High End Retailer Enters Pittsburgh Market

Pittsburgh Business Times - 10:56 AM EST Thursday
by Tim Schooley

After nearly a year of hints, speculation, no comments and occasional denials, Simon Property Group confirmed that Nordstrom will open a department store at Ross Park Mall.
Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. has been highly coveted by developers and public officials alike in the region for years for its legendary service and quality merchandise.

In a statement, Erik Nordstrom, president of stores for Nordstrom, said the company had been mulling the region for some time.
"We've been looking for the right opportunity to open a store in this community for nearly a decade," his statement said. "We're excited to get our doors open in Pittsburgh and start serving customers here."
The store will be a 144,000-square-foot, two-level store and will open in the fall of 2008.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business

Pittsburgh Nation Comment:

The new Nordstrom store will bring a certain cache to the region that none of our existing department stores carry. The fact that they are coming now sheds some light on the way that outside retailers are viewing the region. Just like many of the retailers and restaurants that are located at South Side Works ( The Cheesecake Factory, Urban Outfitters ), the exclusivity of Nordstroms in the market will make it a regional draw.
That being said, the fact that it will locate at Ross Park Mall instead of a downtown location makes it a homerun, but not a grandslam for the region. I greatly respect the marketplace, and I can see that the Ross Park location is much more of a sure thing for the retailer.
However, with all of the terrific news coming out of downtown, I think that Nordstrom could have been the perfect retail catalyst for Renaissance III.

Westinghouse Electric Company to Expand

Westinghouse Electric Co. is scouting locations in western Pennsylvania for a facility that would house as many as 2,000 new workers, company officials said Wednesday.
Westinghouse needs more space because it expects to win long-term contracts for nuclear power reactors, including plants in China and the southern United States.
"We're looking to identify possible locations for new hires over the next eight to 10 years," Westinghouse spokesman Vaughn Gilbert said.
"We need a new location to house these people who are going to be involved in the new nuclear plant market."

Read More at The Pittsburgh Tribune Review

Pittsburgh Nation Comment:

The role of Westinghouse in the development of our region can not be overstated. As I am fond of saying, Westinghouse turned electricity from a science experiment into something that no American could live without.
Westinghouse Electric continues to be a regional powerhouse ( No pun intended )
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

New Movie " Pittsburgh" to Debut at DeNiro's Tribecca Film Festival

Goldblum's Music Man Turn Filmed for "Pittsburgh" Debuting at Tribeca Film Fest
By Ernio Hernandez21 Mar 2006

Jeff Goldblum's documented journey back home for his starring turn in the Pittsburgh CLO's The Music Man and films with stage stars Alec Baldwin, Frank Langella, Alan Cumming, Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne join the lineup of works at the upcoming 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.
The fifth annual event will be presented by co-founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in the namesake downtown New York City locale, April 25-May 7.
The Pillowman's star Goldblum is the focus of Kyle LaBrache and Chris Bradley comedy's "Pittsburgh" billed as somewhere "between genuine documentary and outright self-parody." The film makes its world premiere at the festival. The actor also appears opposite current Entertaining Mr. Sloane star Alec Baldwin in "Mini's First Time."


Expansion of Pittsburgh Technology Center Moves Forward

University related tech park on the riverfront will add over one million square feet of high tech R&D space.

The Greater Oakland Keystone Innovation Zone (GO KIZ) is a collaboration formed by regional economic development organizations to increase technology company formation, location and growth by better leveraging the combined assets of the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. For the past year the GO KIZ Space Subcommittee has been focused on expanding the amount of space for high tech start ups and corporate research centers in close proximity to the universities.

This week City Council gave final approval for $43 million in infrastructure funding setting in motion the expansion of the Pittsburgh Technology Center.

Read More at Yahoo Finance News
Photo: CMU Learning System Architecture Lab

Pharmacy Benefits Manager Opens Pittsburgh Office

National Medical Health Card Systems Inc. has opened an office in Washington's Landing in Pittsburgh, the company said.
The pharmacy benefits manager, based in Port Washington, N.Y., said Pittsburgh's "strong university community" was a big factor in its decision to locate an office here.
"The fact that both Duquesne University and University of Pittsburgh offer programs in pharmacy was another attractive feature to NMHC," said Pittsburgh Mayor Bob O'Connor. "NMHC has already hired 20 professionals, several of whom are clinical pharmacists."

From The Pittsburgh Business Times
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse announced investments of $100,000 each in eight local life-science startup companies.

Among the eight companies getting Greenhouse funding is Cohera Medical Inc., which has developed TissueGlu, a biodegradable adhesive product that minimizes bleeding and infection after surgery. It is in the animal testing stage. The firm was co-founded by former University of Pittsburgh faculty member and surgeon Mike Buckley and his colleague, Eric Beckman.

Read more about this and the other Pittsburgh companies at
The Pittsburgh Business Times

Economic Reports Predict a Good Year for Commercial Real Estate

PNC Fianacial Group and National Board of Realtors Anticipate Lower Vacancy Rates / Higher Rents

Tuesday, March 21, 2006By Elwin Green, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A pair of economic reports issued last week, one locally and one nationally, offer strikingly similar projections for commercial real estate in 2006.
The "Real Estate Industry Outlook" by PNC Financial Group Senior Vice President Nick Buss and the "Commercial Real Estate Outlook" of the National Association of Realtors both anticipate a good year for commercial real estate, driven primarily by job growth and international trade.
Both Mr. Buss and the national association expect average vacancy rates nationwide to drop and rents to rise in all five of commercial real estate's major categories: retail, office space, industrial, multifamily and hotels.

Funds help city's 5th big park grow

Grand View Scenic Byways Park would encircle Mount Washington
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
By Diana Nelson Jones, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

View larger PDF image

Pittsburgh's fifth great park has taken another step into being with a $50,000 Heinz Endowment grant. The money will go toward salary for a director of the Grand View Scenic Byways Park, a 270-acre tract that would connect Mount Washington's famous vista to the rest of its roots.

Read More at The
Monday, March 20, 2006

Happy Birthday Mr. Rogers

Fred Rogers was born on this day - March 20th, 1928.

He was a gentle man, and one of Pittsburgh's most beloved citizen's. We we're lucky to live in his neighborhood.

Please visit Family Communications Website

Pitt Develops New Contact Lens Glucose Sensor

The contact lens could spare people with diabetes from having to prick their fingers several times a day to check their blood sugar levels.

Researchers at The University of Pittsburgh's Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering have created a thin plastic sensor that changes color based on the concentrations of glucose. Patients could look into a specially designed mirror to detect color changes in the lens. Green would mean normal levels, red would mean dangerously low levels.

Currently, diabetic patients are required to draw blood from their own fingers in order to test their blood glucose levels.

In addition to the blood glucose monitor, reasearch at the NanoScience center has resulted in the development of color-shifting paints, and scaffolding to heal damaged hearts.

According to Nano Techwire, an industry news website, Nanoengineering and nanotechnology use atoms and molecules as basic blocks to build minute machines, create new materials, and perform new molecular tasks. In a major push to advance the frontiers of the promising nanoscience field, which has energized researchers worldwide, Pitt enjoys a competitive edge through its newly endowed Petersen Institute.

The scientists and engineers who make up Pitt's Petersen Institute are experts in designing, characterizing, and fabricating nanoscale materials, devices, and systems. The researchers, drawn from the University's Schools of Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and the Health Sciences, form flexible, cross-disciplinary teams to investigate major questions in nanoscience and engineering.


Regional Air Service Partnership Cites Success in Reducing Fares and Increasing Flights

A partnership between the Pittsburgh business community and government agencies found that nearly 4 million local passengers flew out of Pittsburgh International this year. In addition, it is now cheaper to fly out of Pittsburgh than the average big-city airport. This is great news, given the fact that for years Pittsburgh suffered from artificially inflated air fares due to US Airways dominance.
New low-cost carriers have moved into Pittsburgh to help fill the gap in flights, and have provided price competition. As these air carriers continue to add flights, the overall situation for the region improves.

Read "Efforts to improve air service begin to pay off"
by Barbara McNeese
at The Pittsburgh Business Times

The Pittsburgh Task Force to become part of Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

The Pittsburgh Task Force, which led the recent effort to find a master developer for the Fifth and Forbes corridor Downtown, is declaring victory and disbanding, becoming a committee of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business Times
Sunday, March 19, 2006

Commercial investors set their sights on Pittsburgh -

By Ron DaParma

Bob Bach, national director of market analysis for Grubb & Ellis Co., a commercial real estate firm, noted in a recent market forecast program that outside institutional investors are looking more at cities such as Pittsburgh for real estate investments.
With competitive pressures driving up the cost of buildings in already higher-priced cities like New York, Seattle and San Francisco, buyers are looking to so-called "second-tier" cities like Pittsburgh, he said.
As a result, 14 office properties or complexes, totaling more than 5.5 million square feet of space, were sold from late 2004 through the third quarter of 2005, Grubb & Ellis reported in its 2006 Real Estate Industry Forecast.

Commercial investors set their sights on Pittsburgh -
Friday, March 17, 2006

Great Britain considers UPMC for Cancer Treatment Planning

Medical center continues global growth plan
Pittsburgh Business Times - March 10, 2006
by Kris B. Mamula

During the past 18 months, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has been quietly helping take its cancer therapies to Great Britain.
Most recently, a delegation of doctors and officials from the English Department of Health visited Pittsburgh in January to see first-hand UPMC's "hub and spoke" system of developing and distributing radiation treatment plans for cancer. Those plans are electronically transmitted to specialists at 43 outlying medical facilities through D3 Advanced Radiation Treatment Planning Services, a Shadyside-based, for-profit company partly owned by UPMC.

Read more at the Pittsburgh Business Times

Fast Growning Low-Cost Air Carrier will fly from Pittsburgh International

JetBlue to fly out of Pittsburgh to N.Y., and Boston

After eyeing Pittsburgh for a number of years, Jet Blue will begin flights to Kennedy and Logan Airports in June.
The reduction of US Airways flights has opened the door for low cost carriers like Jet Blue and Southwest Airlines.The fare to New York City will be between $64-$129 one way.

Read More at the
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Pittsburgh is a Major US Market Part II

More on the subject of Pittsburgh's city size rank.

After some more research, I have found a great Brian O'Neill article in the Post-Gazette. This is exactly what I was trying to say in my first post on this subject. I hope that you all take the time to read the full article. Brian O'Neill has done a much better job on this subject than I could.
Please note that I have added bold and italic text for emphasis.

Pittsburgh's lament: We could have been a contender
Sunday, July 17, 2005By Brian O'Neill

Pittsburgh has slipped again. We've now America's 56th largest city, down from 10th in 1940, and you can bet your autographed copy of the Rand McNally road atlas that we'll continue to slide even if the regional economy booms. Because Sun Belt cities don't play by our rules.
That is a fact many people miss when comparing the sizes of cities. Only passing mention was made in a story last week of a big reason that western and southern cities grow quickly: They annex their suburbs, turning commuters into city residents, whether they like it or not.

I asked graphic artist James Hilston to show what Pittsburgh might look like had it played the same Sun Belt game for the past half-century or so. This is just a parlor trick, a little mind bender for a Sunday afternoon, not a suggestion for our future. Nobody needs to go to the parapets at the borough borders to keep Pittsburgh at bay. But here's what's been happening in five of the 10 largest cities in the United States.

Houston went from 17 square miles in 1910 to 160 square miles at mid-century to 579 square miles at century's end. San Diego has more than tripled its land area since mid-century, as has Dallas. San Antonio is nearly six times its 1950 land area. Phoenix is more than 27 times its mid-century form. In fact, the land gained by both Phoenix and San Antonio in the 1990s alone represents an area larger than Pittsburgh.

What's funny, though, is that Pittsburgh is still more densely populated than any of them. Pittsburgh has more people per square mile, even after losing half its population, than five of the top 10 cities in the country.

The chart uses data from the 2000 census. Pittsburgh has managed to misplace another 12,000 people since then, and the other cities have grown some, but the point remains.

The average Pittsburgh resident has twice as many neighbors per square mile as the average resident of San Antonio or Phoenix, and at least 50 percent more than Dallas, Houston and San Diego.

The average Top 10 city is 340 square miles, roughly six times the size of Pittsburgh. They've adapted to the auto age by spreading out and broadening the tax base to include those who lived in the "real" Houston, or San Diego or Phoenix, and not just those within the buggy-age boundaries.

How much land is that?

The smallest of the cities, San Diego, would swallow about 90 of Allegheny County's 130 municipalities entirely, and take pieces of more than a dozen others. The northern line would split Hampton and McCandless, the southern line would go deep into Upper St. Clair and Bethel Park, the eastern boundary would cut through Penn Hills and Monroeville and the western one would slice Moon.

Read More of Brian O'Neill's column at the
(Brian O'Neill can be reached at )
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pittsburgh is a Major US Market!

I had an interesting conversation the other night while having a drink with some associates.
One of the guys at the table had spent significant time in Phoenix Arizona, and had mentioned that it had grown over the years to become the 6th largest city in the US. I knew that according to census rankings that Pittsburgh had dropped to 52nd largest.

52nd does not scream out Major market!

The next day I decided to do some research and what I found was a real eye-opener.

The ranking of city size by the census is done according to population with-in the city limits. No consideration is given to the land area of the city.
Sixth largest city Phoenix spreads its population of 1,418,041 over a land area of 475 square miles!

Pittsburgh's 322,450 people are spread over only 55.6 square miles!

What is wrong with this picture?

The Greater Pittsburgh Metro Area is clearly larger that the city borders.
Our borders have been arbitrarily set by politicians or by topography decades or even centuries ago. Our region has remained the same size since it's founding.

On the other hand, cities in the south and south-west have grown from small cities to large in the very recent past, often by increasing their borders and annexing adjacent communities. I would suggest that some of these cities have done so with one eye looking towards their status.

Perhaps we could learn something from these fast-growing cities.

The Land Area in square miles (sm) of the top ten US cities is as follows:

  1. New York: 303 (sm)
  2. Los Angeles: 469 (sm)
  3. Chicago: 227 (sm)
  4. Houston: 579 (sm)
  5. Philadelphia: 135 (sm)
  6. Phoenix: 475 (sm)
  7. San Diego: 325 (sm)
  8. San Antonio: 408 (sm)
  9. Dallas: 343 (sm)
  10. San Jose: 175 (sm)

52. Pittsburgh: 55 (sm)

Some of these cities sprawl as far as the eye can see. In Pittsburgh, on the other hand, I could easily ride a bike from one end of the city to the other in a leisurely afternoon. ( And I am not in very good shape! )

I firmly believe that the Greater Pittsburgh market ranks in the top ten if looked at objectively. Would anyone argue that Allegheny county is the Greater Pittsburgh market area?

Allegheny County's 730 square miles and population of 1.4 - 1.5 million people put us around the sixth largest city in the US.

This is not arbitrary! In 1788, when Allegheny County was founded, it could have just as easily been named Pittsburgh County, and it would be unnecessary for me to write about the relative size of the Greater Pittsburgh region.

My point is not neccessarily that Pittsburgh and Allegheny County should merge to create the sixth largest US city. It is that we are already the sixth largest US market no matter where the "City Borders" are drawn.

From now on, I will no longer concede that Pittsburgh is the 52nd largest city, or that our population is 322,000. I will simply restate the obvious - Greater Pittsburgh is one of the nations top ten markets.

Photo courtesty of The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Region begins $3 Billion Building Boom

According to today's Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Pittsburgh is in the early stages of a $3 billion dollar building boom.
My headline might read a little differently:

Pittsburgh Begins Renaissance III

The projects include the following:
  • Three PNC Plaza - A new multi-use, highrise building being constructed on Fifth Avenue, downtown. This proposed tower will be between 25-30 stories and contain 360,000 square feet of office space, a 150 room luxury hotel, 30 condominium units and ground-level retail.
  • Piatt Place - A renovation of the former Lazerus Department store into luxury condominiums and street level retail.
  • Quantum Two at South Side Works -This new office building will become the headquarters for American Eagle Outfitters. The move by American Eagle represents a move by a major employer from the suburbs to the city.
  • The Eastside retail complex - Continued expansion of the "whole Foods" site and the future $25 million to $30 million conversion of the Highland Building into an 84-unit condominium, and construction of an adjacent Holiday Inn.
  • Duquesne University Campus Expansion - ground was broken today for the Multi-purpose Recreation Center. Future projects will continue over two acres of Forbes Avenue.

It is obvious that all of these projects (and more) have one thing in common:

Developers are confident in Pittsburgh's future.

Many of the downtown projects include substantial residential components, likely bringing a 24 hour vitality to the central business district. The office components will bring thousands of new employees into the city, and the retailers will give the new workers and residents the ammenities that make city life exciting.

Region begins $3 billion building boom -
photo 1 Three PNC Plaza, Gensler Architects
Photo 2 South Side Works
Monday, March 13, 2006

Fifth / Forbes Development Could Include Movie Theater and Grocery Store

Giant Eagle has confirmed that it is in talks with Millcraft Industries to locate a grocery store in the former Lazarus Building downtown.
The presence of a grocery store in the golden triangle has long been seen as a requirement for a successful downtown residential district. In recent months, developers have announced several residential projects in the Central Business District, including Millcraft industries.
Millcraft is planning on renovating the 265,000-square-foot Lazarus space into a mix of retail, office and 47 upscale residential units.
In addition, Millcraft has had discussions about locating a movie theater in the Fifth/Forbes district.
These amenities are exactly what is needed to attract residents downtown. Developers have seen substantial interest in their condo projects from "Urban Pioneers" - people who do not require all of the "comforts" of suburban living. However, I believe that there could be a large market for downtown housing units if some of these businesses locate in the district.

Urban residents have waited a long time for a vibrant downtown. It seems that our patience is beginning to pay off.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business Times

Photo from the architects website: Strada, LLC

Friday, March 10, 2006

Pittsburgh: A City for All Ages

I started to write this blog about the fact that Pittsburgh was ranked fifth best city in the nation for senior citizens. The poll was conducted by the Senior Journal, and the results surprised me.
I was not surprised that Pittsburgh was ranked high as a place for Seniors, because we have long been told about our aging population.
What surprised me was the company that we we're keeping.

The top five cities for seniors were as follows:

  • Portland
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Milwaukee
  • Pittsburgh
I thought that these places are the cool cities for young people. Portland, Seattle, San Francisco... This is the the Gen-X United Nations!

Could it be, that truly great cities provide many of the same ammenities for both young and old alike? Don't people want great universities, hospitals, and great housing at every age?

The criteria used for the senior poll include:

  • Health Care - Great hospitals and health care facilities.
  • Housing - Low cost of living, median home price, property taxes and monthly apartment rent.
  • Social Environment - Plentiful entertainment venues, the arts, museums, education, recreation, colleges, and libraries.
  • Transportation - ample public transportation, special access transportation, and commuting times.
  • Crime - Low violent and property crime.
  • Environment - sunny days, clean air, clean water, natural disaster risk, ocean coastline, rivers and lakes, and national parks.
  • Economy - low consumer prices, sales taxes, unemployment rate, and recent job growth. Disease - life expectancy, age 85 expectancy, depression rate, heart disease, and cancer rates.
  • Spiritual - percent of population belonging to organized religions and the number of religious congregations.

Add to the mix Pittsburgh's vibrant art, music, entertainment and education amenities and you have the recipe for a very livable city for all ages! Indeed, many of Pittsburgh's urban neighborhoods have a wonderful mix of age groups, ethnicities and incomes. If Pittsburgh can continue on it's current path it will be a world class city for people of every age.

View the Study at SENIOR JOURNAL.COM

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

7 Finalists are Chosen for West End Bridge Design Competition

International design competition yields 7 finalists from a field of 109 design firms.

The competition was sponserd by The Riverlife Taskforce, and funded by the Alcoa Foundation. The contest sought to create new connections to both land and water. Entrants were asked to consider creative approaches for connecting pedestrians, cyclists, boaters and other users of all ages to both shores of the river.

Pittsburgh's rivers have traditionally been used for industrial transport. In fact, The Port of Pittsburgh is the second busiest inland port in the nation and the 13th busiest port, of any kind, in the nation. According to the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, the port is larger in tonnage than Baltimore, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. The 52 million tons of cargo that the Port of Pittsburgh ships and receives each year equates to an annual benefit to the region of more than $873 million.

In recent years, however, groups like The Riverlife Taskforce have begun working to ensure that our rivers and shorelines become beautiful, safe, inviting places for commerce, tourism, and recreation.

As an architect, I applaud the competition's organizers for attempting to make the structures that span our rivers worthy of the Pittsburgh lanscape.

photo1 : Endres Ware
photo 2:
Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
Monday, March 06, 2006

Pittsburgh One of America's Hottest Cities

New Survey Ranks Pittsburgh at 24th for Business Expansion and Relocation

Each year Expansion Management Magazine asks 80 prominent site location consultants to choose the 50 hottest cities in the U.S. for business expansions and relocations.

This year, Pittsburgh has been ranked 24th.

It is the second year in a row, that Pittsburgh was the only city in the North East to break into the top 25.

In this Superbowl winning year, Pittsburghers are used to chanting "We're Number One!" but maybe it is time to start chanting "We're 24th!". This is remarkable news given the current conventional ( and misguided )wisdom that companies are leaving Pittsburgh in droves. It seems that this survey turns that thinking on it's head.

Although this survey highlights the meteoric rise of certain southern and western cities, it shows that among north-eastern cities, we are staying competitive.

Next time someone tries to convince you of the slow decline of businesses in our region, just respond....

" We're 24th!, We're 24th "

Pitt Names New Dean of the Graduate School of Public Health

Infectious Disease Expert comes from the Center for Immunization Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Donald Burke, considered an expert on infectious diseases, has been named dean of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Burke will also direct Pitt's new Center for Vaccine Research and become the first occupant of the UPMC-Jonas Salk chair in global health.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business Times

CMU Forms Partnership With Video Gaming Powerhouse

Pittsburgh University Plays Major Role in Video Gaming Industry

Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center will collaborate with Electronic Arts, the maker of blockbuster video games such as the Madden NFL series to "revolutionize how computer programming is taught," the new partners said Monday.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business Times

Pittsburgh International Airport to get New Airline and Maintenance Facility

Republic Airlines will begin operating out of Pittsburgh International Airport and build a plane maintenance plant here that will employ 140, under a deal with Pennsylvania officials announced Monday.
The Indianapolis-based airline, part of Republic Airlines Holdings, will fly out of former US Airways gates, Gov. Ed Rendell said.

Read More at The Pittsburgh Business Times
Friday, March 03, 2006

Lazarus Building Developer expects to have Fifth/Forbes plan to mayor soon

Millcraft Industries looking for larger development role Downtown

Millcraft Industries Inc., now working on renovating the former Lazarus-Macy's store in Downtown Pittsburgh, hopes to have its comprehensive plan for revitalization of the Fifth/Forbes corridor complete in the next two or three weeks, company officials said Friday.

Read More at the Pittsburgh Business Times

US Steel in talks to purchace AK Steel

The Nation's largest Steel Producer could increase production capacity and market share by 30%

U.S. Steel was the world's seventh-largest steelmaker in 2004 with production of 20.8 million tons, according to the Brussels-based International Iron & Steel Group. The transaction would create the world's sixth-largest steelmaker.


Del Monte committed to staying, growing in Pittsburgh

Del Monte Food Company's Acquisition of Meow Mix could mean more jobs, and a bigger presence in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

It is time to vote for your favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh Magazine

Be a restaurant CRITIC!
It's time to vote with your knife, fork and mouse for our 17th annual Best Restaurants awards!

I always have fun reading Pittsburgh Magazine to see if my favorite restaurants win in their catagories.

This year, I voted for Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar as Best Overall, Best Sushi, Best Steak; Cefalo's for Best Newcomer, and Bruschetta's for Best Italian.

Please vote at Pittsburgh magazine, and post your comments below.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The City That Built America

Pittsburgh casts a long shadow!

Our glass, aluminum and steel is found in buildings from coast to coast. Pittsburgh mills produced the raw materials for many of our nation's great landmarks including:

  • The Empire State Building
  • Rockefeller Center
  • The Brooklyn Bri