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Market Square street closure may alter apartment project

By Jeremy Boren
Thursday, July 3, 2008 

The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, a major investor in Market Square’s revitalization, might nix a new seven-unit apartment complex if the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership sticks to a plan to close some of the square to vehicles.The foundation is spending $3.5 million to renovate three vacant buildings on Graeme Street into Market at Fifth, a plan for seven upper-floor apartments, a ground-floor restaurant and a rooftop garden.

The partnership’s plan would close Graeme, the apartments’ entrance, and nearby McMasters Way as part of a $4.8 million to $5 million Market Square overhaul that, so far, has gone smoothly.

“We do not see how people are going to want to rent apartments on a dead-end street. People do not frequent dead-end streets,” said attorney Anne E. Nelson, who voiced the concerns at a meeting of the city Historic Review Commission.

“If Graeme Street is closed, Landmarks does not know whether it should complete construction of the project,” Nelson said.Arthur P. Ziegler, the foundation’s president, said there’s time to develop the apartments as something else if a compromise can’t be reached and the street is closed. 

The commission approved Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s preliminary plans for Market Square, but members urged the partnership, a nonprofit that represents Downtown business owners, to find a solution with the foundation.

“We’re going to do what’s best for the square,” said Dina Klavon, the designer the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hired to guide Market Square’s overhaul.

Klavon said she’s open to changes and plans to meet with Pittsburgh History & Landmarks officials.

“We’re trying to give Market Square back to the pedestrian,” said Mike Edwards, president of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “Right now it’s a thoroughfare. We want it to be a destination.”

Edwards said renovation of Market Square could start in spring.

The most striking feature about Klavon’s design is that it would make Market Square resemble a one-level European piazza.

The roadway would be flush with sidewalks and outdoor cafes, which would be differentiated by using various types of pavement and cobblestone.

Traffic and parking would be permitted on the perimeter of the square. No traffic would be allowed in the middle, where Market Street and Forbes Avenue meet.



Jeremy Boren can be reached at jboren@tribweb.comor 412-765-2312. 


Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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