Welcome to the Neighborhood!

12.16.2015 / Insights

by Scott Bofinger

Pittsburgh is the darling of the Rust-Belt and has fared better than most of its sister cities along this stretch of post-industrial urban landscapes. The herculean task of reinvention, from 19th century titan of industry to 21st century hub for technology, education, medicine, and more, is one that Pittsburgh has navigated successfully, quickly, and gracefully.

Through this large-scale revitalization and reinvention, many of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods have undergone their own renaissance. Where some neighborhoods have exploded (think Shadyside, and now Lawrenceville), others have not fared as well and are eager to begin turning over a new leaf. Uptown, LGA's new home, falls into the latter category and is ready for reinvestment.

Uptown occupies some of the most strategic real estate in the city, running along the Fifth-Forbes corridor between Downtown and Oakland, Pennsylvania's second and third largest economic generators. Despite its advantages, the neighborhood has suffered from decades of disinvestment, population loss, and overzealous demolition to pave the way for dozens of surface parking lots. Uptown's potential has been creating a lot of buzz lately, and it seems that its time has come for new development.

So, what's going on here?

The Port Authority is exploring a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line that would run along the Fifth-Forbes Corridor between Oakland and Downtown, connecting Uptown with public transportation and better pedestrian access and circulation. The Eco-Innovation District initiative will promote sustainable infrastructure and development in Uptown. Neighborhood stalwarts Duquesne University, Mercy Hospital, and the Pittsburgh Penguins attract thousands of visitors to the community, and will continue to be a source of growth.

For the first time in a long time, there is construction in Uptown. Our own project, Flats on Fifth, will be the first market rate apartment building in the neighborhood in decades. Down the street, Action Housing's Uptown Lofts on Fifth recently won a prestigious design award for how it handles affordable housing in the area. The mix of affordable and market rate housing is important – whatever changes occur here have to be accessible to everyone.

It requires a certain amount of confidence and courage to imagine a brave, new future. Fear of change comes from the possibility of making the wrong decision about what comes next. In the case of a community with many stakeholders with numerous points-of-view, arriving at a consensus about what comes next is more complicated and must go through a thorough Public Community Planning process.

For the process to be successful, we need community leaders who are willing to listen; residents and stakeholders who are willing to contribute their ideas; and we need trust and a willingness to compromise from all parties sitting at the table.

As a new neighborhood resident and a design professional interested in community planning, I am enthusiastic about the future of Uptown. I look forward to seeing what develops and how harmoniously residents, businesses, stakeholders and local leaders can rise to the challenge of creating an equitable future.