Public Hearing at Historic Review Commission on Redesign of Market Square
PREPARED TESTIMONY OF
ANNE E. NELSON, ESQ.
PITTSBURGH HISTORY & LANDMARKS FOUNDATION
BEFORE HISTORIC REVIEW COMMISSION, CITY OF PITTSBURGH
PUBLIC HEARING ON MARKET SQUARE REDESIGN
JULY 2, 2008
Landmarks is investing $3.5 million to restore four historic buildings in Market Square located between Market and Graeme Streets, the design of which was predicated on Market and Graeme being open to vehicular traffic from Fifth Avenue into the Square. This project includes retail on the first floor and seven affordable apartments on the upper floors that will use Graeme Street as an entrance. We will have a green roof and are doing the buildings to LEED standards.
However, the redesign plans chosen close Graeme Street and that has us alarmed. 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; they want the ability to bring people to the door, load and unload things. Furthermore, how will the trash be collected?
Historically, Market Square has always had full traffic access. Removing traffic from the street has worked almost nowhere in the United States and almost every street where traffic was removed has been reconverted to have traffic flowing again in order to bring people back. Examples of traffic removed include East Liberty and Allegheny Center in Pittsburgh, and traffic was eliminated on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia and Fourth Street in Louisville and both lost retail and now have it back since traffic was reopened.
If Graeme Street is closed, Landmarks does not know whether it should complete construction of the project. I ask you, would you like to live on a dead end street that has no provisions for dropping off or turning around? When thinking about this question, remember that in Pittsburgh during a lengthy part of the year, the days are short and the weather is bad.
We question our investment of $3.5 million in Market Square if Graeme Street is closed.