Menu Contact/Location

Former foes meet to develop plans for Downtown

Friday, January 05, 2001

By Tom Barnes, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It wasn’t exactly like the Arabs and the Israelis sitting down for Middle East peace talks, but it was close.

Mayor Tom Murphy and his top advisers met yesterday for the first time with former Fifth and Forbes project opponents to discuss how best to revitalize Downtown’s commercial core.

“Three big things are needed: housing, transportation and parking,” said Jeff Joyce, owner of the 1902 Tavern in Market Square and a member of Murphy’s Plan C Task Force on Fifth and Forbes renewal.

“We have plenty of people here in the daytime,” he said. “We have to keep them here after work.”

He listed issues that must be resolved: “How do people get into and out of Downtown? How do they get around once they’re here? How do we make Downtown living affordable?”

About a dozen people attended yesterday’s two-hour session. They said the meeting went well even though little came out of it in concrete terms. Additional weekly meetings will be held in the Oakland offices of Bally Design, which is coordinating the renewal effort.

Murphy brought his top aide, Tom Cox, plus city Planning Director Susan Golomb and press aide Doug Root.

Murphy himself “will be there next week and the week after,” Root said. “It shows his seriousness about this.”

Bernie Lynch, former director of the Market Square Association and an opponent of Murphy’s now-abandoned Market Place at Fifth and Forbes plan, said the geographic area to be improved might end up being larger than just Fifth and Forbes avenues.

Another opponent of Market Place, Arthur Ziegler of the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, said the group wanted to get a good idea of what the present and future base of customers is for Downtown in terms of shopping, housing and entertainment.

Once the customer base is determined, the city can decide what shops, restaurants and clubs can be added to the current mix to attract more people, he said.

He and Lynch said previous studies on how to revitalize Downtown would be used in this new effort. Those include a plan done for the foundation by New York City architect Stan Eckstut, and a months-long collaborative effort last year headed by city Councilman Sala Udin.

Root said he’s hoping the group, by spring, will come up with the outline of “a workable plan that everybody can embrace.”

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. © Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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