Thursday, December 22, 2005

Economic Development in Pittsburgh

Not going to talk about the arena proposal or the proposed PNC building even if they have pretty pictures... or in the case of Three PNC "butt ugly pictures".

It's not that the concepts don't intrigue me or that the public policy debate doesn't interest me, it's just that I'm not going to waste my breath until someone plops money down on the table. Money talks; bullshit walks the old chestnut goes. Frankly, I see this project getting a few laps under its belt before too long.

I distinctly remember a similar proposal for the lower hill a few years ago, announced with much fanfare, which went nowhere.

I also remember a proposed hotel at the corner of Stanwix and Forbes, again announced with much fanfare, which also went nowhere.

Consider this: The Penguins are desperate for a new arena; slots revenues are seen as the primary key to funding that development. The slots licenses have not yet been awarded. There are some keen interests here that are overlapping. $1,000 in architectural renderings may buy Mario the publicity he needs to get the funds to build the arena. Damned if I know if it'll happen any time soon if all he needs is some good ink in the popular press.

Further consider this: The Hill is not a place where outsiders do very well. There are, again, many competing interests that will cause a headache for Mario should his eyes become too big.

Also consider this: PNC is the largest private slum lord downtown:

Muchos Gracias!

It makes economic sense for them to off load these properties and put them to more productive (i.e. revenue generating) use. The timing, however, so close to the end of the Murphy Administration, makes me suspect that there are political motives at play here. PNC could have done this three years ago... what has changed? Could this just be a grab at some other more pressing and profitable project?

Also further consider this: there are a lot of competing interests Downtown... maybe more varied than The Hill. While they do have site control, I doubt that the process is going to be a walk in the park.

So, I'm reserving judgement for now on both of these proposals until someone ponies up some dough. If it happens, great... if not, well, back to the drawing board.


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