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Case #85

Preserving Downtown Pittsburgh


Prolonged community protest in Pittsburg halted the construction of a five-acre mall. The plan died when Nordstrom, the critical retail anchor, pulled out, declining a $28 million subsidy from the city. Pittsurgh's 1950s-style urban renewal plan called for demolition of sixty-two buildings of varying age, size and architectural style, disclocation of 120 businesses, lost tax revenue on top of enormous city subsidies for the new mall, endless disruption and no assurance of what would be built.


Author's Comment:

"This was the classic formula for killing downtown in order to save it, a strategy that has erased rather than rebuilt so much of downtown America.
In recent years the regeneration of historic downtown areas has led the way to broader revitalization. Even big-box retailers and national chains have discovered the advantages of renovating existing buildings in downtown markets. Downtown is where the retailers want to be. They can be made to come on urban, not suburban terms.
The common link in the resistance to these proposals is the presence of strong coalitions of historic preservationists and local business associations."

See also Baltimore and New Haven
Location: Pittsburgh, PA USA
Action: Direct
Setting: Developed World
Extent of Action: Local
Issues: Conservation
Year(s): 2000
Outcome successful
Source: Nation, April 23, 2001


Roberta Brandes Gratz is the author of Cities Back From the Edge: New Life for Downtown (Wiley) and a senior fellow at the Urban Husbandry Communications Project in New York City.
Prepared By: rja, 7/01
Rating: 1
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