Not your parents Bloomfield
A few months ago there was a column in the Trib by Joe Mistick waxing poetically on Bloomfield and all things neighborhoody in Pittsburgh. So lest we forget that the city is not defined by the goings-on down on Grant Street, I think I will pile on.
I am a bit flabbergasted by another headline in the Trib last week that has the number '$300 million' and 'Bloomfield' in the same sentence. The story was just about the development being planned at the former Don Allen site at the corner of Baum and Liberty. See: Zoning board postpones ruling in $300 million project
I'm flabbergasted because $300 million represents a lot of change concetrated in one small section of the city. I guess its visceral to me because it still is true that I can pick a spot on Liberty Ave. and with a swivel of my head look around and see the places where I was born, baptized, and went to grade school among other things. There are an awful lot of visual cues that look identical to the day I was born. Granted, Autenreiths is long gone, there was no Thai food in Bloomfield long ago, Gordons Shoes has moved out to the Waterfront and the apostasy of a Dominoes Pizza in the heart of Little Italy is over.. but things ‘look’ the same. Thus for years when people would say to me Bloomfield was changing I would quibble and say that only on the margin that might be true, but at its core its still the same place. That many I grew up with had moved away was not news to me, but I realized about a decade after the fact that even most of their parents were gone as well.
How big an impact will $300 million have? Urbanidesdev on the Pittsburgh Rundown thread on the Skyscraper page posted that full plan for the former Don Allen site. Ambitious would be an understatment. See.
Developments like this are always unique and it may not make sense to compare this plan to things like Bakery Square or 'Eastside'. In fact the difference here is just how close in to residental neighbood this is compared to either of those. Bakery Square is taking advantage of the defunct old Nabisco plant on a stretch of Penn Ave that is mostly institutional. Eastside as it were is mostly on top of what was the parking lot for Yellow Cab for decades. On one side is mostly commerical/institutional development in East Liberty. As the crow flies it is close in to residential parts of Shadyside, but parts that are seperated pretty cleanly by rail and bus lines. Even the Children's Hospital development is really a massive infill of what was a large hospital. So from a sheer neighborhood transformation perspective, this one project is pretty different.
Add to that the planned expansion of the Hillman Cancer Center, let alone the nearby construcion of Childrens Hospital and it really adds up to a lot of development. Actually I was shocked a couple months ago when I saw a listing for a house nearby. When I bought my house in the mid 1990’s there were several houses for sale on a single block at the border of Friendship and Bloomfield (let's not even get started on neighborhood definitions around here). At the time the price for each of them was close to $50K. I saw one listed recently for over $300K.
Even the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern is documenting the change in its own way, and I suppose nothing will bring Winky's back?
Have not had a contest here in some time... who knows where Autenreiths was?