Flying cars and giant glass buildings. Hover boards and talking houses. Scenes of unimaginable 2000s technology invaded the big screen in the twentieth century. Although we have not yet entered such an advanced society and it is not likely we will do so by the year 2020, the Pittsburgh Business Times has some theories about what may happen to the Steel City in the next six years.
It’s no secret that retail has collapsed within the golden triangle. In an area that once housed multiple department stores, only Macy’s still exists and it is slipping through the cracks. With the increasing difficulty of traveling from the suburbs to downtown, retailers have suffered the loss in customers. As more retailers close up shop, the less incentive there is for city workers to stay downtown. The solution according to the article is to increase the amount of rentable space and bring more residents into the city. Retailers will then see the market potential and take advantage of it. Considering there is such a small number of retailers downtown, this could offer numerous opportunities for small businesses. There are a significant number of residential projects taking place around the city and they can all be viewed on the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s website: http://www.ura.org/working_with_us/projects.php.
With the rapid redevelopment of the Golden Triangle, some are saying the city’s growth will eventually spill into surrounding areas, most notably the Strip District. Since it is flat and boasts a large amount of open land, it will most likely be developed into an extension of the Pittsburgh skyline. Instead of the Golden Triangle, the potential new skyline has been coined the “Golden Ladle.” The area that once held the Mellon Arena is also set to be redeveloped into residential buildings. There are also numerous residential development projects taking place in the South Side. Some are worried that redevelopment will lead to a significant rise in the cost of living in downtown Pittsburgh. The average cost of rent for an apartment downtown is now over $900 per month. However, even at this price, many people, especially young, are moving into the city.
There is also the issue of transportation. The Port Authority bus routes have been reduced in the past few years and the Light Rail Transit only travels through the South Hills. However, now that the Port Authority is stabilized, there will most likely be no more route cuts. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times article, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald expects a more efficient transportation system for bike riders as well preliminary work on expanding the Light Rail Transit service. The most likely advancement will be the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system currently under consideration. It offers limited stops and faster transportation between downtown and Oakland. The easier it is to travel in and around the city, the more likely retailers are to open and experience success.
Although we can only hope for the revitalization of residential and retail downtown, the future looks promising. Flying cars or not, exploring the heart of Pittsburgh with its green space, waterfronts and rich history will continue to delight Pittsburghers for years to come.