Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lawrenceville Redux

The PG appears to have a short series on the past and present of Lawrenceville, a Pittsburgh city neighborhood written about even in the Financial Times (April 24, 2009: Diamond in the Rust) and many other media venues in recent years.  Trust me more will be written on the causes, impacts and eventual end of the transition of Lawrenceville before it is over.  For me one key point is that very little of the history of Lawrenceville of late can be separated from what once was, and what became of St. Francis Hospital. With full disclosure it was also my place of birth.

Just a few years ago, the solicitations I myself received attest to the plans that at least some companies wanted to frack the land underneath the neighborhood, which I found amazing because the neighborhood still had some of the highest population densities in the region. Would the Lawrenceville story be the same as it is today if any form of that drilling had proceeded? A counterfactual that will be left to conjecture.

Still, the biggest change in Lawrenceville over the last 2 decades has been the demographics.  Just a decade ago, some still looked to Central Lawrenceville as one of the oldest neighborhoods in the nation. So old that the area was identified as a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (which has its own acronym now: NORC).

But now the story is about the youth inhabiting the neighborhood, and indeed that is the crux of it all.  From the Nullspace archives(2015: All things Larryville - long past inflection), here is the time series that says it all:

Of course the other story of Lawrenceville is real estate, which is the same story as the demographics really.  People do live in houses and all of that.  But for one story of property appreciation in the neighborhood just take a look at the price history of 5309 Duncan St which was sold, looks like via a foreclosure, for a pittance in 2010, then sold for more than an order of magnitude higher (but still only for $26K) in 2011 and then for $225K in 2013 and I can only speculate that its current market value is somewhat higher.  Makes you want to go back and look at all the complaining about the values set in the last countywide property assessment in Allegheny County.  The map showed big jumps in property values in Lawrenceville for sure, but I will bet the values (which remain in place today under the county's base year system) are a fraction of most market value transations. 
The bottom line is something else. As much as the story seems one of the here and now, be assured that the redevelopment story in Lawrenceville has built upon a lot of work in the past.


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