Menu Contact/Location

No Surprise: Landmark asset destroyed for faulty vision

No Surprise: Landmark asset destroyed for faulty vision

August 7th, 2003

Grand Marble Columns
Lobby View

Lord & Taylor has announced that it will close the store that it built at enormous public cost in the once grand main banking room of Mellon Bank.

Landmarks had opposed the destruction of this exceptional room with its sixteen marble columns, the marble floor and counters, the grand chandeliers, and the bronze ornaments.

We felt that the space was a tremendous magnet to attract people to the Fifth/Forbes area, and it should be given a use that enhanced it.

Instead about $27 million dollars of public money was used for loans and grants to the May Company and its subsidiaries Kaufmann’s and Lord & Taylor and the asset was destroyed.

Across the country, department stores are vacating, dying, or at the best, like Kaufmann’s downtown, shrinking.

They have been described by retail developers as “dinosaurs.”

Landmarks advocated putting the public dollars that were invested in Lazarus, and Lord & Taylor ($70 to $90 million?) into loft housing in the historic buildings together with a considerable amount of new housing coupled with a great new glass Market House at Market Square. Bring in the people and the retail will follow on its own is our belief.

The Cultural District also could serve as an anchor and we proposed better linkage at Liberty Avenue and Market Square to induce people going to the theatres to come into the Fifth/Forbes area.

Lazarus and Lord & Taylor have not brought the promised results of independent retailers springing up voluntarily all around them. In fact, there is a far greater degree of vacancy around Lazarus today than there was before it was built when vacancy was zero.

We believe that the current Fifth/Forbes developer Kravco is on the right track and will release a plan that organically builds the revitalization of the area in a way the speaks to our local market and that will therefore work. We believe the firm will not artificially inflate dinosaurs, but will engage with the future rather than with paleontology.

The tragedy is that the great banking room can never be regained, and in addition the taxpayer is now holding the bill for its destruction.

Copyright © 1997-2007 Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, 100 West Statio

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633