Friday, February 1, 2008

Urban News Vol. 4

Today's urban news comes from Pittsburgh, my favorite U.S. city. Last night, after reading more chapters of Kunstler's Home from Nowhere, I had the topic of the integration of waterfronts into public life on my mind. Kunstler's high praise of European cities included their proclivity to make the waterfront a centerpiece when applicable whereas the U.S. Americans tend to use riverbanks as freeway conduit.

As I talked to my wife about the topic, I thought about Pittsburgh and what makes certain parts of it great. Station Square, the business and entertainment district at the foot of Mount Washington on the south shore of the Monongahela River, and the more specific topic of today's Urban News, derives much of its attractiveness from its integration with the river despite the obstacle of active train tracks.
Photo courtesy wikipedia user Andrevan (CC A 2.5)

The North Shore, originally just home to Three Rivers Stadium and its accompanying asphalt abyss, is now home to two beautiful major league venues, the Carnegie Science Center, studios of Fox Sports Pittsburgh, hotels, bar/restaurants, condo development, and new office buildings (Del Monte for instance) sprouting out of America's sacred parking lots (gasp!). This district derives much of its synergy from embracing the waterfront with pedestrian scale parks, bike trails, kayak rentals, and boat docks.

All of this will be reiterated in my Pittsburgh case study at a later date. On to the news:

Station Square Getting New Nightclub, Eatery, Office Tenants
By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Article Key Points:

  • Two new office tenants relocating to Commerce Court. Alcatel-Lucent and CardWorks
  • Nightclub Zen locating in Freight House shops, a restored railroad building
  • American/Greek eatery opening to serve breakfast to business crowd
  • GSP Consulting almost doubling square foot leased in Landmarks Building
  • Since acquiring Commerce Court last year, Forest City Enterprises has increased Commerce Court occupancy from 67 to 92 percent

Key optimistic highlights to take out of this one is the decision by CardWorks to remain in downtown Pittsburgh as opposed to moving to Woodbury, NY (you guessed it, a suburb on Lon Guyland) and Alcatel-Lucent's consolidation of Pittsburgh offices into a central location, and excellent decision in my opinion as it does two things, reduces Pittsburgh sprawl and cuts company operating costs. Are we beginning to see a reverse trend in the corporate thought process?

Some notes on the re-use side of this story. The Landmarks Building is a historic restoration and re-use of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad Terminal building. The first floor is leased to five-star restaurants. The Freight House shops are the major shopping component of the development conceptualized by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation. They inhabit a reconfigured 19th century railroad yard freight house.

What I'll leave you with is something not particular to any city, but is a fringe benefit to doing the right thing. Mass transit in cities around the country are touting themselves as the healthy alternative.

1 comment:

thethirdcoast said...

That kayaking through Pittsburgh thing looks sweet!