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  #19641  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 4:02 PM
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Part of their point about the current terminal is with the growth of things like kiosk check-in and such, they have way too much space at ticketing and not nearly enough at security
It's too bad that PIT was built right before online check-in and kiosk no-bag check-ins became a thing. Also I imagine if they had configured things differently they might have been able to reuse some of the ticketing areas as additional security or something, but because both sides of ticketing are upstairs, away from the train to the air-side, it just can't work.
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  #19642  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 5:27 PM
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I wonder if the ACAA could incorporate some added cash to the plan to assist PAT in upgrading the 28X finally. Remove the IKEA stop completely, rebrand the line, add luggage racks, and potentially even try to address certain traffic choke points with bus-only lanes. If they're doing the uptown BRT for $200 million, I think even $50 mil could greatly get that line up to speed.

If not, they'll have a perfect airport experience on their end, only to drop a lot of folks right back into the same garbage public transit situation.
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  #19643  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 6:14 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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Looking over some of the older Planning Commission minutes that have now been posted. The discussion about the downzoning in Point Breeze on July 11th is pretty depressing, insofar as it makes clear the impetus was local NIMBYs being pissed about parking and worried regarding the expansion of student rentals in the neighborhood.
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  #19644  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 6:34 PM
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Originally Posted by qwho View Post
It's too bad that PIT was built right before online check-in and kiosk no-bag check-ins became a thing. Also I imagine if they had configured things differently they might have been able to reuse some of the ticketing areas as additional security or something, but because both sides of ticketing are upstairs, away from the train to the air-side, it just can't work.
It is funny that the airside terminal was really quite brilliant and ahead of its time. The landside terminal, not so much

Or maybe not so funny, since that goes along with the fact it was conceived as a hub airport where connecting passengers would be dominant.

And big picture, that is what this proposal is all about: turning it into a great O/D airport for the current era. I know $1.1 billion is a lot, but we're lucky in some sense it is only that much to get it where it can be.
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  #19645  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 6:36 PM
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I wonder if the ACAA could incorporate some added cash to the plan to assist PAT in upgrading the 28X finally.
I wonder about that myself. I know this has come up in more than one context (can airports help fund transit connections given federal restrictions on their use of funding), but I don't know the current answer.

Edit: As I am thinking about it, I believe there might have been a rule that they could only provide funding for transportation exclusively on airport grounds and only used by airport patrons/employees. But they might have been looking at relaxing that rule.
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  #19646  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 7:30 PM
Bricktrimble Bricktrimble is offline
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I was a skeptic of spending all of this money to make large changes, but it seems this is a pretty well thought out plan by PIT. Looks like they've got buy-in from almost everyone. One thing that isn't clear is how this will impact the landing fees?
Agree. It seems too bad that we are demolishing the 1992 airport buildings already. Is 25 years that old??? I thought reusing the existing airside terminal would be great and could be a cost savings. This proposal doesn't follow sustainable principles (not reusing a decent building), but it sounds like new technology requires a new building.

It's also too bad that the Hyatt will end up being farther away. They will probably bus people to the terminal since that would be most cost-effective, but that's just more pollution and traffic.
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  #19647  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 7:30 PM
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Timely in light of the Amazon discussions, Brookings has released a study discussing how to build on Pittsburgh's new branding as an innovation city:

https://www.bizjournals.com/pittsbur...rgh-a-top.html

Actual study available here:

https://www.brookings.edu/research/c...novation-city/

I thought this was interesting:

Quote:
"You happen to be the world's best naturally occurring innovation district, so you could just wait for everyone to copy you and mimic what you already have, or you could say 'We're going to take our starting point and move it one step beyond,'" Katz said. "'We're going to make Oakland a living laboratory for technological deployment.' When people enter Oakland, they're going to know that they've entered a playground of innovation that doesn't just work for the techies, but for the broader community."
Have I mentioned before the idea of centering a network of aerial gondolas on Oakland? I might have.
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  #19648  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2017, 7:58 PM
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The URA agenda is up for tomorrow. Some highlights:

1. The next round of low-income housing tax credits will go to either Mellon's Orchard South, the New Granada Apartments, Garfield Highlands, or the Doughboy Square affordable projects.

2. The URA is selling an entire block in Uptown (bounded by Colwell St, Pride St, Our Way, and Stevenson St) to MidPoint Group. This is the mixed-use garage project which was first proposed back in January, which will involve four levels of parking, three levels of mixed-income housing, and street-level retail.

3. October Development is working with a partner to buy eleven parcels in Manchester. Some of these are vacant lots, while others have intact abandoned rowhouses. October Development has done good work in Deutschtown, so I'm sure they'll have a decent plan here.
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  #19649  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 11:06 AM
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We've been on this story for many years, but the Post-Gazette just reported on how even as the population remains flat, the City of Pittsburgh is undergoing rapid demographic change:

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/ci...s/201709140059

The City is rapidly getting younger (driven by a boom in 25 to 34 year olds), more educated, less poor, higher-income, and more diverse in terms of national origin and ethnicity (particularly with respect to Asia). All this explains why there has been robust demand for new apartments in cool areas despite the flat population overall.

Of course the relevant politicians and such immediately pivoted to messages of concern about whether the City will remain inclusive. And they are not wrong to worry! We've seen all this play out in other cities, and it can be a real problem if lower-income people are driven out due to housing becoming unaffordable.

But I hope people understand that at at the end of the day, you can't stop this from happening by trying to block the inflow of these new people--that's what NIMBYs in other cities tried, and it didn't work. Instead, you have to stay ahead of the demand curve with adequate supply, which means approving (without downscaling) lots and lots of residential development.

And then there is transit--we've only got so many areas with good transit service to prime job locations. Higher-income people will gradually take over those areas and crowd out lower-income people, unless we commit to expanding transit service over time. Unfortunately that is largely out of local control and we currently have anti-urban politicians in charge of the state and federal legislatures. But we have to try to change that if we want infrastructure in Pittsburgh (and other similar cities) to keep up with these changes.
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  #19650  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 11:10 AM
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Walnut Capital was the winning bidder for the PAA building, beating out conventional favorite Pitt:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business...s/201709140078

Walnut's preliminary use plan is the leaseback to the PAA, offices on upper floors, and retail/restaurants on the ground floor.

Of course the plan still has to be approved in bankruptcy court, and in similar situations in the past, institutions like Pitt with local political support have tied up the private developer in litigation until they gave up. But hopefully that doesn't happen this time.
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  #19651  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 11:19 AM
BrianTH BrianTH is offline
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Local developers are suggesting they might be able to re-use the current landside terminal once it is vacated:

http://www.post-gazette.com/business...s/201709140094

I'm fine either way. It does have historic significance of sorts (including the design--although I personally find it very ugly, it is an important building by a prominent architect), and it is certainly appropriate in terms of scale. But obviously it would take a lot of work to reconfigure. So whatever developers prefer is fine with me.
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  #19652  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 1:38 PM
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Qatar has announced they will in fact begin international cargo freight service at PIT:

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/tra...s/201709140130

Quote:
Qatar is expected to deliver 200 tons of cargo into Pittsburgh each week. The route will take it from Doha to Luxembourg to Atlanta and then Pittsburgh and back to Luxembourg and Doha. It will provide the Steel City not only with access to European markets but a link to Asia and the Middle East, the airline stated. Products expected to be transported into and out of Pittsburgh include heavy electronics, high-value manufactured goods and pharmaceuticals. Qatar currently serves 17 destinations in the Americas, including Philadelphia. Pittsburgh will be one of four served exclusively with a Boeing 777 freighter.
It may seem like small news relative to some other PIT news lately, but this is the sort of international network connection that will determine which cities thrive and which are left behind in a globalized world.

P.S. Kinda ironic to call Pittsburgh the "Steel City" right before noting this is all about the sorts of products replacing steel.
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  #19653  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 2:46 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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Originally Posted by BrianTH View Post
Walnut's preliminary use plan is the leaseback to the PAA, offices on upper floors, and retail/restaurants on the ground floor.
That's an awkward building to try ground-level retail in, because it's set back fairly far from the sidewalk and elevated from street level, meaning there's little visibility. However, it is somewhat of a localized retail desert for a few block radius of that area, so I think that there will be decent traffic - particularly when the hotel is finished.
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  #19654  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:14 PM
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Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
That's an awkward building to try ground-level retail in, because it's set back fairly far from the sidewalk and elevated from street level, meaning there's little visibility. However, it is somewhat of a localized retail desert for a few block radius of that area, so I think that there will be decent traffic - particularly when the hotel is finished.
Yeah, they are not exactly set up for window shopping. But I would imagine something like a nice sit-down restaurant could do well there. I think the only real competition nearby would be The Porch, and maybe Bridges in the Holiday Inn (if you consider that nice). Maybe do one of those things where you have a variety of options, from a takeout counter for the lunch crowd up to rooms you can reserve for private events.
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  #19655  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:17 PM
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Honestly, I really hate Walnut Capital. Everything they do is tacky. Bakery Square is an abomination. I'd prefer this gorgeous building to be out of their hands.
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  #19656  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:28 PM
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Honestly, I really hate Walnut Capital. Everything they do is tacky. Bakery Square is an abomination. I'd prefer this gorgeous building to be out of their hands.
I've been reasonably pleased with how they approach historic preservation. I have my own criticisms of Bakery Square, but I think the renovation of the Nabisco factory worked out well. To that you can add the Highland and Wallace Buildings, which languished for many years. And they were also amenable to saving some of the facades of the buildings around the corner on Penn where the new building went.

And, of course, they pay taxes.
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  #19657  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:36 PM
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I've been reasonably pleased with how they approach historic preservation. I have my own criticisms of Bakery Square, but I think the renovation of the Nabisco factory worked out well. To that you can add the Highland and Wallace Buildings, which languished for many years. And they were also amenable to saving some of the facades of the buildings around the corner on Penn where the new building went.

And, of course, they pay taxes.
You're right, of course. I just can't get past how bad their new construction projects are, and how many awful signs they plaster everywhere.
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  #19658  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 3:53 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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You're right, of course. I just can't get past how bad their new construction projects are, and how many awful signs they plaster everywhere.
Weren't they basically a student slum rental company until they somehow got capitalized and upgraded to the big boys?
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  #19659  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 4:02 PM
eschaton eschaton is offline
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New zoning report. The only big news is a new 33-unit residential development in the Strip District. Location is here. The plan is to use the existing five story building, and add a four-story addition onto the two-story building next door, merging the two into one structure. There's also plans for eight new townhouses on Boundary Street in Oakland.
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  #19660  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2017, 4:27 PM
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Just some idle thoughts in the airport. I broadly knew this from looking years ago, but I went through their financial report through end of 2016 just now. Basically, they are almost done paying off their debt, with cash set aside to pay off most of the remainder.

And aside from paying off debt and associated interest, they are very profitable--I get them at a surplus of over $40M in 2016. And that surplus is probably just going to keep growing.

So basically, once they are done with the debt payments, they will have all this money burning a hole in their pocket. In fact, the payments drop a lot after next year. And by law, they have to spend it on themselves. Hence this project.

Absent changes in federal law, there is pretty much nothing we can do about most of this, meaning we can't redirect all those airport surpluses to things like lower local taxes or other local projects. But they are also getting state gambling money. I would not mind seeing that redirected to something else local, but it might not be possible to pull that switch off. And I would certainly rather have that money spent on the airport than just dropped back in the hands of the current state legislature.

Anyway, just something to keep in mind if you are ever wondering why they are doing this now--a very large part of the answer is they are trying to figure out how to spend the surpluses they are going to start running in a couple more years.
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