Thursday, March 19, 2009

Business Districts

Saw this in the P-G:

Mayoral candidate Carmen Robinson used her first major campaign news conference in Bloomfield yesterday to criticize development of neighborhood business districts.

Bloomfield is thriving, the Hill District attorney said, but business districts in Carrick, Homewood and elsewhere are not. She said fellow Democratic nominees Luke Ravenstahl and Patrick Dowd have pursued development policies that support big Downtown firms and corporate entities from outside Pittsburgh, deploying "carnival tactics in a desperate attempt to coax people from elsewhere to step inside our tent."

Ms. Robinson was asked about the Ravenstahl administration's tax abatement plan for more than 25 neighborhoods citywide, which is spurring home sales in East Allegheny, the Hill District, Hazelwood and elsewhere. "Gentrification," she responded, and then pointed to East Liberty. "I believe they're trying to turn it into East Shadyside."

Asked for a policy change she would make in that regard, she said she would form a Department of Neighborhoods to respond to small business needs.
Well, that was the whole article. Obviously the Post-Gazette has kind of cut back on in-depth reporting, printing, and subjunctive clauses. The Trib has a different article, based on the same event, but with a different tone... and a few more words.

Anywho, not to sound like I'm supporting the Mayor or anything, but I'm sort of concerned with what Robinson is suggesting here. Now, I recognize that many neighborhoods have an attachment to their business districts and there are certain amenities that local business districts provide to residents, still, in 2009 Pittsburgh the role of local business districts have diminished considerably over their role in the 1950s, 60s, or 70s. Indeed, the local neighborhood business district I grew up with, which included one market, a pharmacy, a florist, two pizza places, a hardware store, two barbershops, and a dentist is now down to a florist. There are some neighborhood business districts that have been winners, but there have been a whole lot more losers.

So, the question to a Mayor Robinson: is it worth pumping scare resources into 89+ business districts (some of which are doomed from the get go) or to put resources towards those few districts which are doing well in order to sustain them?

No offense, Carmen, but maybe Homewood should be allowed to fail and that other provisions can be made to provide local business districts resources to residents.

And, well, gentrification ain't all bad: it's instant equity for homeowners (although it is a pain in the ass for renters).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen her official plan, but I have it on good authority that the main thrust for development of neighborhood business districts involves a rocket attack on the Waterfront and tactical assassinations of Giant Eagle store managers.

What else could get people to shop in overpriced, understocked local markets with no parking?