posted by Jonathan Potts at
Yes, yes, yes.Congrats on the great piece. Sam MacDonald
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Nice piece.You're becoming an expert on this issue.
No! No! We must give them three or four more tries with the magic bullet theory of finding the perfect developer/magnet store that will solve all our ills. You're approch is just too on the mark.
JP,Not being a Pittsburgh native, I've always been struck by how URA operatives here seem so market stupid.I give you three examples: (1) Lord & Taylor; (2) Lazarus and, (3) The various iterations of Fifth & Forbes, especially the wishlist that had a certain Seattle-based department store as its proposed "urban mall" anchor.The problem with all three entities is that they were terribly outdated as business models. It was almost as if Jerry Detorre, Mulu Birru, et al, had decided to take the Way Back Machine to 1977 and find a retail trend to ride.As the May/Federated merger showed, the American consumer is moving away from department store shopping, especially in downtown venues but also in exurban malls. Increasingly, department stores are valued more for their ancestral real estate holdings than the service they provide (for the May deal, one might suggest that the real estate carried a $30 billion pricetag, and the rest was thrown in to make it look good).As businesses, Lazarus, L&T, F&F's "anchor" whatever aren't nimble enough to stave off challenges from products-on-demand chains like Zara or a growing number of online stores that vend the same products with none of the overhead. And without the highest parking rates in the U.S., one might add.This does not even factor in the increasing grip on American retail by the largest discount chains (see Walmart). Why waste taxpayer money trying to get these same consumers to shop (Lazarus, L&T, etc.) at places they're abandoning?Sometimes it's best just to let the market take over. The F&F property holders will eventually sell their parcels to whichever venture can best make a buck there. It might be messy at first, but I would argue it's far more conducive to neighborhood peace and future prosperity.As for the brownfields, auction them off. I foresee Walmart buying what they want, just as Home Depot, et al, picked off the choicest cuts of Homestead.
Of course, I might not know what I'm talking about, considering I live here.Much better to take the word of the NYT, which seems to have pasted together every annoying, full o' BS press clipping assembled by the Allegheny Conference over the last 10 years:www.nytimes.com/2005/07/20/realestate/20pitt.html?Gee, NYT, if we're all so happy with all this great, publicly financed development, then why hasn't organic commercial activity picked up along those pharonic edifices to Murphy's incompetence (see Heinz/PNC uglyplex)? Why is the city bankrupt? And why can't the great and powerful Oz (see Murphy, Tom) walk with his head held high?
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I'm a Pittsburgher. I'm a PR guy. These opinions are solely my own. What else do you need to know?
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