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Issue One: Lord & Taylor’s departure form Pittsburgh

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Disgraceful Downtown

The decision by May Co. to close the Lord & Taylor store comes as no surprise (“Lord & Taylor Leaving: 3-Year-Old Downtown Store Is Among 32 Retailer Is Unloading,” July 31). Business in Downtown Pittsburgh is hardly booming. What is a surprise is Mayor Tom Murphy’s immediate response that the company committed to a five-year agreement to operate the store and that he will hold it to that agreement.

The mayor promised any business coming into Downtown a revitalized business district. Where is his Fifth and Forbes project that we have heard about for more than five years? If anyone has not honored a commitment, it is certainly our mayor.

Our Downtown shopping district is a disgrace. There is nothing Downtown anymore to attract shoppers. Getting into and out of the city is ridiculous. Parking is expensive and not readily available. The mayor wanted to force many of the small stores out of business (through eminent domain) to make way for his Downtown growth spurt, which has never taken place.

Storefronts on Fifth Avenue are empty and boarded up. Hardly appealing! Before the mayor criticizes May Co., he needs to look at the promises he has failed to honor. There is more to the city of Pittsburgh than the North Side, Mr. Mayor.

Point Breeze

A costly mistake
I am honestly not surprised that Lord & Taylor is leaving Pittsburgh. I am also not surprised that Mayor Tom Murphy and his “powers that be” turned a deaf ear to local historians and preservationists some three years ago and allowed the former Mellon Bank building to be gutted/destroyed for nothing more than a chain department store.

The current administration claims to be interested in Pittsburgh’s future, but always at the expense of its past. Let’s not continue to raze what made Pittsburgh what it was and is, in the name of misguided progress.


No surprise to me
As a relative newcomer to Pittsburgh, I am not surprised that the Downtown Lord & Taylor store is closing. Pittsburgh is not New York or Chicago; in both cities, a large population of city dwellers as well as city workers sustains downtown shopping. In smaller cities, upscale department stores are typically in the suburbs, where the targeted shoppers live. Moreover, suburban malls offer free parking as well as an enclave of other stores and restaurants catering to those shoppers.

Contrary to what might be popular belief, shoppers spending a fair amount of money on clothing do not want to pay an additional $10 to $14 for parking. In addition, on a given shopping trip, they want to choose from a variety of stores and, finally, have lunch or a snack at a nice cafe.

For Pittsburgh to attract upscale shoppers, it must offer: 1) free or very inexpensive parking, not just after 4 p.m. at Christmas, but all the time; 2) a large group of upscale stores that constitute a shopping destination; 3) nice cafes and restaurants offering light meals; and 4) pleasant surroundings — an area that appears to be falling apart does not encourage such shopping.

Whether Pittsburgh can offer these elements Downtown is anyone’s guess. My suggestion to the mayor is, rather than continuing to hope for what will not happen and continuing to lose stores, consider changing the focus to an area such as Shadyside, where upscale shoppers live and shop and where there is potential for more parking space.

Schenley Farms

City leaders don’t listen
I am a former Pittsburgh resident living in Connecticut, and I read the Post-Gazette online. Regarding the story about Lord & Taylor leaving the city, I’m curious as to why the mayor doesn’t seem to understand why the retailer is leaving.

The residents of the city and surrounding suburbs have said for years that if the parking situation Downtown doesn’t improve, Downtown will never thrive. There are too few parking spaces, and the people who are in charge of those few parking spaces grossly overcharge for them.

Why would I drive into the city, battle the annual Pittsburgh road construction/detour system and pay an exorbitant amount to park my car to shop?

The city fathers don’t get it, have never gotten it and, by this time, probably never will get it. Nor do they listen to the people who would be ultimately supporting the Downtown stores, who also have said this for years.

It makes me scratch my head in wonder to see them scratching their heads in wonder.

Mystic, Conn

Joe Grata can be reached at or 412-263-1985.

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

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