Pittsburgh’s Downtown has accomplished a remarkable sequence of metamorphoses over its history—from busy river port, to railroad hub and smoky industrial center, to scenic corporate home. The past two decades have seen it transform yet again, becoming the vital center of a post-industrial city driven by education, medicine, and technology.
Today, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has formed Envision Downtown, an independent public-private partnership crafting a 21st century vision for the sustainable and efficient development of a Downtown for all.
A key focus of the Envision Downtown process is the Complete Streets initiative, addressing transportation, land use, and livability. Complete Streets will approach urban planning, design, and construction in a way that is innovative, comprehensive, aesthetically pleasing, and technologically advanced—with the potential to set a national standard for urban centers.
- Downtown has seen more than $3.2 billion of investment in the last eight years, with another $2.8 billion planned or under construction.
- In Spring of 2014, Downtown’s population of 12,343 was up 10.5 percent from 2010.
- As of 2014, Downtown had 17.1 million square feet of Class A office space with a 94.4 percent occupancy rate, and 4,450 residential units with a 95.6 percent occupancy rate.
- In 2013, 4.9 million attended sporting events downtown, and 1.4 million attended performing arts and entertainment venues.
- Downtown is one of the top 10 headquarters of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S.
- Downtown includes 47.25 acres of park space and 7.13 miles of riverfront trails.
- In 2012, Downtown’s Grant Street was named one of the “Greatest Streets in America” by the American Planning Association.
- Reduce congestion and improve efficiency.
- Improve public safety, convenience, and cleanliness.
- Enhance equity, accessibility, and availability of real-time information and choices for users of all transportation systems (cars, trucks, bikes, transit, pedestrians).
- Strengthen the Downtown economy and reinforce Downtown’s position as a critical employment center in the region.
- Further the resiliency and sustainability of Downtown.
- Improve the experience of living, working, and visiting Downtown.
Challenges and Opportunities
- Pittsburgh’s Downtown is the second-largest central business district in Pennsylvania.
- Downtown’s Cultural District, a national model for arts-driven redevelopment, continues to thrive.
- A new academic district driven by Point Park University is bringing redevelopment, streetscape improvements, and more residential students.
- Downtown is filled with landmark architecture that is restored, or restorable.
- The workforce population is more than 130,000, and a growing resident population tops 12,000.
- Streets are narrow and prone to congestion.
- Bike infrastructure is limited. However, a system of bike lanes was begun in 2014, and a bike sharing program is starting.
- Downtown is compact, but its walkability could be improved.
- Riverfront access is available, but could be increased.
- Envision Downtown has just commenced a two-year planning cycle.
- Pilot projects beginning in 2015 are anticipated to focus on public transit, minor infrastructure improvements, and efforts to establish and improve public spaces.