Sunday, September 09, 2007

In the little valley town

My former co-worker Mark Houser has a good story in today's Trib about efforts to revive the Mon Valley. One passage in particular caught my attention:

Mayor Betty Esper publicly credited the Waterfront for bringing her town out of distressed status this spring. The booming commercial and residential complex on the former site of U.S. Steel's Homestead Works has added more than $500,000 in tax money to the borough's bottom line, Esper said, an amount that will grow as the development pays off construction loans under a tax-increment financing plan.

But median house prices in Homestead fell nearly 8 percent in the past four years, according to RealSTATS, a Pittsburgh real estate analysis firm.

Attempts to lure traffic to Homestead's Eighth Avenue strip have failed so far. Sonja Sailor and her husband, who live in a restored Victorian house up the hill in Munhall, opened the Alexander Graham Bell Cafe on the strip in 2003 and closed it shortly after. The vegetarian restaurant that moved in after them also folded.

"We thought when we came in that there would be a lot of people who would do something similar to what we did, and that didn't happen. I think that Eighth Avenue just isn't ready yet," Sailor said.

Of course the Waterfront hasn't done squat for Eighth Avenue. It was never meant to. Oh, maybe local officials hoped it would. But the developers clearly wanted it to be cut off from Homestead's business district. Why else would there be only one access point from Eighth Avenue, which is poorly marked and confusing to navigate? I understand that the developers had to have their arms twisted to provide that entrance. It seems to me the Waterfront was designed merely to lure shoppers from the city and other suburbs, and keep them at a safe distrance from the scary people in Homestead.

For an interesting discussion on Mon-Valley development--or lack thereof--check out this post at Tube City.


In other news, a state loan to help the Penguins and the Sports and Exhibition Authority acquire land for the new arena has turned into a grant. At least we don't have any other uses for that money.

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Blogger Jason Togyer said...

I had no idea you were a secret listener of WJAS. --- Little Jimmy Brown

9:30 PM

Blogger Vince said...

Man, that quote that started the story could have been about Youngstown.
With its rising costs and the work that's already completed, the Mon-Fayette Expressway is on its way to being just what its opponents said it would be: a road to nowhere.
And just as an aside, that speech by Ed Rendell in McKeesport three years ago? It was on a Sunday, and I was supposed to cover it, but I got pulled off it to work on a police standoff and chase from Sheraden to Monroeville. (Maggi was working that story, too.)

1:53 AM


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