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The Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Allegheny County, and the City of Pittsburgh propose a vision plan to guide the next phase of civic space and public realm transformation for a downtown of the future.

47

acres of park space

7

of our region's 10 largest employers reside in downtown

74,000

employees work downtown

260

restaurants

175

retailers

During a recent celebration in the city’s backyard, the region’s leaders announced a proposed plan to reshape three high-impact civic spaces in downtown – starting with the Eight Street Block and Allegheny Descent – that were developed through collaboration with partner organizations.

The strategy? All the catalytic near-term projects detailed in the Downtown Revitalization Vision Plan take into consideration proposed and anticipated commercial conversion projects to create a true neighborhood in downtown Pittsburgh:

  1. A new civic space at Eighth Street Block and Allegheny Descent 
  2. A renewed Market Square 
  3. Renovations in the eastern portion of Point State Park 

And the vision seeks to expand the downtown experience by capturing the energy and vibrancy of adjacent destinations such as the Strip District, the Pop District and the stadiums.

The timing is critical to say the least. Even before the pandemic, downtown employment was shrinking by 17% since 2002, due to the region’s growing sectors choosing physical locations other than traditional upper-floor commercial office space.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato and Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman agree that the plan’s implementation is a matter of urgency, and they are united in the pursuit of a diverse portfolio of opportunities to fund the projects.

Partners from nonprofits, public agencies, academia, labor, the philanthropic community and the private sector are aligned with public officials on the commitment to invest in downtown.

For many stakeholders, the vision plan seems to have resonated as the path toward creating a downtown Pittsburgh of the future: When challenges arise, public and private sectors join forces to unlock opportunities. Most recently, that has taken shape as immediate actions to stabilize downtown through programmatic investments in health and public safety. Examples of this are the new Zone 2 Public Safety Center, investments in two Pittsburgh Downtown Conversion Projects, and enhancements to the Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance program. Additional actions include engaging experts from inside and outside the region, like New York-based landscape architecture firm Field Operations.

“We deserve a fabulous downtown where people want to work, live and play,” said Innamorato during the Allegheny Conference’s Regional Investors Council Meeting on June 5.

“We have always transformed this city with grit,” Gainey said. “The more partners and friends we got, the more we grow.”

Without sustainable solutions to maintain programmatic investments in downtown, the region misses the potential for outside firms with capital and talent to come in and see opportunities for growth.

A long-term reinvestment strategy sets the agenda for what gets funded, and Pittsburgh can serve as a model for downtowns across the commonwealth, creating a ripple effect that will impact generations. That’s one reason why Pittsburgh’s leaders are responding creatively to how our urban core attracts and retains investment and people who demand a downtown that has evolved from a business district to a true neighborhood.

Starting with the Eighth Street Block and Allegheny Descent and Market Square, the upcoming design phase will include coordination with the appropriate local, state and federal agencies and a public input process to guide decisions about access and revitalization of the space.

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