Seems every time I open the local newspaper, it seems a new downtown housing project is in the works. Whether it be a high-rise condo, renovated building turned into apartments — or this new concept living space on Forbes Avenue known as the “Gardens” – Pittsburgh is in the midst of its biggest construction boom in decades.
It means Pittsburgh is finally joining other major cities in the drive towards downtown living and lifestyle, but is it too much, too soon? Are people in western Pennsylvania ready to pull up stakes are leave their big backyards and rural homes for the allure of the new downtown renaissance?
I have been here for 12 years and while I ‘m not a Pittsburgh native, I do feel I have enough standing and have seen enough things to offer an opinion. My opinion is that two major challenges face the city as it tries to convert itself into this new age city. The first is that Pittsburghers are resistant to change when it comes to residential issues. Think about it. People are having trouble navigating the route 28 detour because few, if any, have ventured across the river. Can you imagine people picking up and leaving their long-time abodes?
Then, there’s the issue of cost. While Pittsburgh’s enjoying a boom when it comes to new companies and new opportunities, I doubt the young people the city covets will be able to afford to live in these new projects without putting themselves into a difficult financial position. Rents tend to be high — and when condos start in the $300k — the prices tend to eliminate all but the well-to-do young worker. Such high costs lead to people out-of-state buying up properties because – by comparison – Pittsburgh is affordable.
I’m excited about the changes in Pittsburgh. It’s one of the reasons I have stayed here for many years, but one of the city’s biggest attractions is it’s affordability. You can enjoy the big city feel at small town prices. I just hope in Pittsburgh’ push for urban living, it keeps it’s small town appeal and doesn’t price itself out of the market for those who are proud to call this community home.