Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Concording Braddock's Past

Yesterday the world was all atwitter preparing for the overnight freezathon, and there was this little event of a mayoral inauguration downtown along the way, yet I think the biggest news going around virtually everywhere was of the successful crowdfunding effort to raise $250K for a new restaurant in Braddock. Media coverage extends even to CNN at this point, expect more to follow, but a veritable tsunami of earned media.

Ok, got it.  Downtrodden Braddock + New Restaurant = urban renewal and more. 

Call me confused, but didn't this story already run a couple years ago? There was a whole news cycle dedicated to a new restaurant in Braddock, one that even had $500K in Allegheny County CDBG funding (an incredibly sparse commodity) dedicated toward the project. 

So I get that the whatever plan there was fell through I presume. Happens in the best of circumstances, and little in Braddock has optimal circumstances. What I don't get is that none of the media coverage of this 'new' restaurant project even mentions in passing what was a pretty big local news story in 2012. It's as if it didn't happen at all. Did any of it happen? Is the $500K going somewhere else? I am sure there are answers for all those questions, am not suggesting any lack of disclosure. I really don't think anyone has asked those questions. But if it was all worth reporting on before, is it not worth follow-up?

Regrets for the echo chamber in this, but it is completely coincidental that Jim Russell looks at the Braddock mythos from a slightly different angle in this out yesterday as well in PSMag.com: Rust Belt Geography and Awful Journalism.

I will only add one statistics for those who really want to claim there has been progress in Braddock of late. The latest poverty statistics released last month* show that the overall poverty rate of Braddock residents is 39.9% and for children under 18 no less than 66.2%.

Overly negative? Maybe, but the list is long of projects or initiatives or plans for Braddock that made news when first announced, but were never mentioned again when they didn't pan out. Tell me anyone reading all this latest news of Braddock gets the message on what real state Braddock is in today. More than a few reading yesterday's news probably think Braddock is in the midst of rapid gentrification. I get into a frighteningly recurring argument with smart folks in town who, based on news coverage as best I can tell, are convinced that all has been fixed there over the last few years.. past tense. That we can somehow move on to other problems and not worry so much about Braddock any longer.

* 2008-2012 American Community Survey.


Blogger JRoth said...

The main P-G article on Superior mentioned Magarac. A friend of mine was the original architect, and the project included essentially rebuilding floors within a hollow shell; it's not surprising it fell through.

Magarac, btw, didn't have the community component, with the adjacent housing, job training, etc - it was just a regular fancy restaurant in a surprising location (maybe there was a minor community part?).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:45:00 PM  

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