Thursday, August 10, 2006

Things You Should Have Known (Had You Been Paying Attention)

If you were reading the Post-Gazette (or, for those of you that refuse to read such liberal smut, using it to line your bird cages) you may have noticed this article about the impending departure of recently sacked Mayoral Chief of Staff B.J. Leber from the board of the URA.  The article wanes about halfway through, but picks up with a (seemingly) irrelevant piece of Downtown Redevelopment news, to wit:

The [URA] board is expected to move forward tomorrow with a proposal by the History & Landmarks Foundation to renovate three vacant buildings at Fifth Avenue and Market Street for retail and housing.

The URA plans to purchase a deteriorating building at 439 Market from the city for $40,000, plus costs, and then sell it and two adjacent URA-owned structures to Landmarks Development Corp., a History & Landmarks subsidiary, for $257,000. The price would have been $300,000 were it not for a $43,000 credit History & Landmarks is getting to complete demolition on the city-owned building, which adjacent property owners have described as a hazard in danger of collapse.

One of the URA-owned structures involved is the old Regal Shoe Co., a favorite of preservationists. Mr. Dettore said History & Landmarks intends to keep the facades of all three buildings.

He said the foundation is considering either apartments or condos for the upper floors of the buildings and retail on the ground level. He views the project as a complement to much larger Fifth and Forbes initiatives, including the new PNC skyscraper, which will include housing, a hotel, and offices.

This is the same property, by the way, that the URA and City refused to sell to PH&LF back in August.   

Had you been paying attention to some of my previous posts, you would have remembered this little gem from back in August, in which I made mention that Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation is, in so many words, a Dicky Cougar-Mellon-Scaife Production (tm).  And, if you recall as I do, that the other arms of the Scaife Leviathan (including the Trib and the Allegheny Institute) have been not so fond of the previous attempts to "revitalize downtown".  I find it interesting, therefore, that PH&LF has yanked its dusty ol' Landmarks Development Corp off the shelf in order to "help" the City in the development of downtown (and presumably receive some additional financial "help" of its own).

Could it be that Mr. Scaife was visited by the ghosts of Pittsburgh Past, Present, and Future and he's now mended his evil ways?  Could Mr. Scaife and the LD Corp. have found a way to make money on a project where so many others have failed?  Or could this just be an insidious plot to stab at the political corpse of his arch-nemesis, Tom Murphy? 

Me?  Having seen Murder on the Orient Express one too many times, I guess I can see the allure of corpse stabbing. 

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