PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With the Christmas holiday season here, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Downtown Pittsburgh leaders went on a walking tour of local shops Wednesday to encourage shoppers to think Downtown.
“Unless we sell Downtown, nobody will buy it,” the Mayor said at a Wednesday morning press conference on a still seedy Forbes Avenue block.
Ravenstahl unveiled a five-point plan he calls the Downtown Action Strategy with a theme of “Pittsburgh Here and Now.”
“We believe that Pittsburgh is in the midst of its third Renaissance,” said Mayor Ravenstahl.
It’s easy to be cynical about this annual ritual of encouraging everybody to shop in Downtown Pittsburgh, but the Mayor insists that this time it’s different.
It’s part of a long-term strategy to remake and rebrand the Downtown shopping experience.
The plan is to attract small shops to locate Downtown by improving the streetscape, not unlike what happened at Market Square.
“Right now, some of our corridors of Downtown Pittsburgh do not provide the atmosphere that encourages people to walk around and to enjoy the quality of shopping and dining that’s available,” the Mayor added.
Teresa Cavoti, with Doncaster on Fifth – a woman’s apparel shop, says other issues must also be addressed.
“The hugest impediment is the parking,” Cavoti told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.
The cost of parking and parking tickets are problematic, but shoppers might put up with that for the right experience.
“Like they do in Manhattan and Chicago, they’re looking for that just wonderful feeling coming into a great location that’s all lit up with music, and I think we can do that here,” added Cavoti.
Chaz Schaldenbrande at Heinz Healy’s, a men’s clothing store that relocated Downtown from Station Square, says it’s starting to happen.
“We’re more than happy,” he said. “It’s better than we expected, and faster than we expected, too.”