PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With Market Square now bustling, the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation announced plans to restore and renovate several historic buildings located in the Market and Fifth Streets corridor.
“This will be a pivotal point between Market Square and the Cultural District, and I think it’s a missing link we need,” says Arthur Ziegler, PH&LF president.
Ziegler says private grants coupled with tax dollars from the state and city would leverage work on buildings like the Thompson Building.
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl hailed the progress.
“You see the big development like PNC, which is important, but to have the retail establishments, the restaurants, the people living on the second and third floors of these buildings is very important to us — to continue to have people downtown,” he said.
“So building by building is really what our vision is, to continue to connect the dots and make downtown a great place to live.”
The plan is to combine retail, entertainment and residential apartments with special features to attract more people downtown — like a unique bar, says Michael Sriprasert of the Landmarks Community Capital Corp. with “an extensive menu of high quality liquors — that you’re going to have bourbons, and vodkas and tequilas that are hard to find in Pittsburgh and an extensive assortment like that.”
Ravenstahl says the number of downtown residents has doubled in the last 10 years and projects like this, says the mayor, will help to meet a demand for downtown living that is growing.
“As soon as apartments are available and up for rent, they’re being taken. So the quicker we can do this, the more people we’ll get here, we’ll grow the tax base and have a more vibrant area so that’s why we’re trying to work as aggressively as we can.”
Approximately 4,500 people live in the immediate downtown area with another 500 apartments expected to open next year when the old state office building is converted into an apartment building.
One key need — say many — is more moderately priced rental units — not just high-priced condos and luxury apartments.
These new renovations, says Ziegler, could help meet that need.