Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Larryville ascendent

I can't believe I missed this, but Mike is watching my back. For those who have not seen it, Lawrenceville (as in the city neighborhood) was the focus of a New York Times piece: A Design District Takes Shape. I love how their illustration highlights Arsenal Lanes as well as newer galleries.... if that does not sum up old and new Pittsburgh I don't know what does. Anyone know when Arsenal Lanes started, it's been since before my retained memories.

Lawrenceville is a complex place for sure. I don't have all the data to confirm this, but it has been suggested to me that on a percentage basis, real estate in the neighborhood is rising faster than most anywhere else in town. Even if not true, I wonder whether the opening of Children's Hospital will eventually have as big an impact as any single event on a specific city neighborhood in decades.

and just a personal obligation, but I will again say Goodbye, St. Francis.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just in the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern early yesterday evening, and the topic of conversation between the bartender and a regular was... What impact Children's would have. The regular could not BELIEVE that a rowhouse down in Lawrenceville had just sold for $125,000. I mentioned that a refurbed Victorian on S. Atlantic just went on the market for $400,000+. All were agog.

But the bartender was quick to point out that St. Francis had employees, too. So he was pretty cautious about predicting impact. But times, they definitely are a-changing.

All I can report is that BBT has no plans to open for lunch. Which is excellent news for my arteries.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 9:36:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

it is a good point that in a real sense, Children's is not net new to the neighborhood because there was a hospital there before. However, it will have been years from the St. Francis closed to when Children's ramps up but also, St. Francis had been in a long decline before the final end. Markets are looking into the future and the writing had been on the wall for a long time with St. Francis and I am sure the local market reflected that. As some recall the history, Children's was never really planned to go into the Lawrenceville site, it was penciled in down on 2nd ave and it was only the final collapse of St. Francis that the current plan emerged, really with little warning.

I also suspect that most of the hospital had been serving a very local service base for some time, and that the workers were also more localized than in many other hospitals in town. Even before the recent expansion announced on the project, Children's was going to be much bigger than St. F. in recent decades and have both a service area and workers drawn from a much broader region. In that sense it's a different type of place.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the perspective of an Oakland resident, I'm a little mystified by the predictions that Children's is going to set fire to the Larryville real estate market. It hasn't done bupkiss to make Oakland an attractive place for professionals to move, after all -- e.g., friends who just refurbished a gorgeous 2,300 sq ft townhouse on (historic district) Oakland Square with commanding views of Schenley Park weren't able to sell it for the $225K they were asking. And it's not like Central Oakland's current reputation as a cesspool of unkempt undergraduates is entirely to blame: even before Pitt expanded its enrollment, professionals in the hospitals lived in Shadyside and Squirrel Hill, leaving Oakland to the nice Italian grandmothers. Personally, I associate the hospitals with noise (sirens and helicopters at all hours) and traffic. Why should Lawrenceville's experience be any different?

Thursday, October 18, 2007 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

That hospitals and other large institutions may not be great for neighborhoods goes back to Jane Jacobs at least so there is an argument there. I suspect that argument applies more to Oakland than Lawrenceville for a couple reasons. The main one being, the issue is not whether a hospital is good as much as what would it mean for the multi-block former St. Francis site to remain empty. Maybe there could have been a better redevelopment plan for the site, but I think a lot of Lawrencville had been depressed for decades as St. F careened into bankruptcy with no prospect of a future for the site. And it is so large that its a bit inconveivable you would have done it all as residential without displacing people from a lot of other neighborhoods also seeking to retain density. A lot of what Lawrencevill is experiencing may just be reflecting the idea that the worst didnt happen.

Speculation for the future of L real estate is just speculation of course. I should follow my own advice and not talk about data I don't have, but the issue I was commenting was people saying prices have already been going up significantly. Again, for % terms it would not have take much but still. I will have to go dig those numbers up to comment on it more.

I am not smart enough to explain Oakland's trajectory. I also dont buy any simple answers like hospitals good or hospitals bad. There is probably an optimal mix that gets you where you want to be. How to figure out that mix and get to it??

Thursday, October 18, 2007 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

and just for the record.. I had to reread what I posted but I said "as big an impact"... not presupposing good or bad. I have already mused publicly about how parts of Penn Ave will be able to handle the traffic. I personally would like to see a lot more thinking going into what all these impacts are or else it will be that much harder to deal with it all reactively.

For oakland.. I have asked but have not heard an answer about what will happen to the Children's site itself.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 10:41:00 AM  

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