The Pittsburgh Region's Most Promising Suburb?

Long-time Pittsblog readers know that I live in the South Hills suburb of Mt. Lebanon, which to its promoters and defenders is sort of the Snapple of Pittsburgh.  It's made from the best stuff on earth. 

But I'm not here today to promote or defend Mt. Lebanon.  Among other things, the School District in Mt. Lebanon is moving forward with a plan to spend well over $100 million to tear down its existing high school facility and build a new one.  The plan provoked long and bitter and ultimately unsuccessful opposition, highlighted (or lowlighted) by the School District and local zoning authorities ending up in a courtroom battle, re-polarizing a town that was torn asunder five years ago over the resignation of the schools superintendent.  Lebo news keeping getting better and better:  bids for the construction project came in the other day, and the School District's forecasts underestimated the bids so badly that the project's groundbreaking, scheduled for the end of April, has been cancelled.  Er - postponed.

So, while Mt. Lebanon remains an extremely pleasant if not particularly challenging place to live, its governance style means that Mt. Lebanon is not a candidate for the title that I'd like to offer here:

What is Pittsburgh's most promising suburb

What town in the Pittsburgh region has that combination of cost of living, housing stock, community spirit, diverse population (within the parameters of Pittsburgh's regional population as a whole), proximity to the City, economic development promise, wise civic leadership, and public amenities that makes it especially attractive both to current residents and, crucially, to young people looking to move in?

My first candidate:  Dormont.  I've had a number of people in recent weeks tell me that Dormont is Pittsburgh's hottest suburban thing -- and some of those people are my neighbors in Mt. Lebanon.  And while I drafted this post several weeks ago, I was going on anecdote and gut feeling, so I held off posting it.  But now there's something concrete to back this up.  Today's Post Gazette reports on Eljay's Used Books moving from the South Side to ... you guessed it ... Dormont.  What caught my eye, though, was not the move but this quote from one of the owners:

"'Dormont is,' Mr. Oreto said, 'where hipsters go to have kids,' and so a good target audience, he said, for their collection of offbeat literature, science fiction and fantasy."

Is Dormont a suburban Shangri-La?  Hardly.  But "where hipsters go to have kids" -- if accurate -- is pretty neat.

Reactions?  Comments?  Other nominees?


4 Responses to "The Pittsburgh Region's Most Promising Suburb?"

Anonymous said... 4/21/2011 11:59 AM

We are 30 somethings with 2 little kids (Hardly hipsters) but we just moved here and love it. Schools are great, can walk to everything and get the same style of home as you would in Mt Lebo for a fraction of the price and taxes.

Seth said... 4/21/2011 3:17 PM

Dormont is an amazing place to live! Still very affordable, we've been there since 2006 and love the Park and Pool being so close. An incredibly walkable neighborhood that you can get darn near anything you need.

rosemary said... 4/21/2011 3:54 PM

Ha, I think that is totally accurate!

Dennis said... 4/22/2011 9:25 PM

Life is better in the East.

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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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