The Future of Pittsburgh

I can feel the bandwagon leaving the station: Between a new casino/arena proposal, the Three PNC Plaza tower proposal, and proposals for the Fifth/Forbes corridor and the empty Lazarus building, Pittsburgh's next Renaissance is already here! And it's all about the residents -- no more building the city on the backs of big businesses.

A little sobering reality:

On the one hand, it is certainly a great thing to bring people downtown to live, give them the opportunity to buy and rent affordable housing, and offer them residential and cultural amenities that make downtown living both functional and fun. "We" should do all of that. Read through the Comments to my last post, and you'll see that I agree with a lot of the reaction to that post, much of which is supportive of the PNC Plaza tower proposal.

On the other hand, once this is all done -- if it is done, and that's a big, big "if" -- Pittsburgh and Western PA are no more likely to be thriving economically than they are today. The one phenomenon -- cool Downtown living! -- doesn't produce the other -- an economy that motors along nicely. "Buzz" doesn't build jobs. In fact, if the two things are related, the relationship is more likely to run in the other direction.

So as the real estate, gaming, and hockey worlds get interesting, and maybe even a bit successful, let's keep our eyes on the economic development ball. That ball is bouncing along in various other places, and with various other people, institutions, and firms, around Pittsburgh.


1 Response to "The Future of Pittsburgh"

B said... 12/24/2005 4:12 PM

You are right on. If all the money spent on subsidies for sports teams, retailers, and real estate were instead either used to reduce taxes (thereby stopping the hemorraging of business to other states or the flow of citizens out of the city) or to stimulate new business creation (exemptions for start-ups, carry-forward losses), the money would be much better spent. The jobs created and the residents retained would be more demand for office space, retailers, and seats in sports stadiums. Once again, government not addressing the root problem, but instead "dressing up" the problem with....a casino? a new skyscraper in a city that can't fill the ones it has?

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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