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East End: A Place whose time has come?

LARIMER ! The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded Pittsburgh a $30 million grant Monday that will help pay for an envisioned $90 million development project that includes new housing, parks, streets and social services in the city's Larimer neighborhood. “This project will be transformational for this neighborhood and a model for the entire country,” Mayor Bill Peduto said before he and other officials posed for photos in front of a jumbo-sized check commemorating the grant. The Tribune-Review reported Saturday that Pittsburgh was one of four recipients of the highly competitive Choice Neighborhoods grants. Other recipients are Philadelphia, Columbus, Ohio, and Norwalk, Conn., officials said Monday. Forty-three cities applied. The local project will feature development of 350 homes during the next decade, including both affordable and market-rate units. It will be part of about $400 million in planned development in Larimer and neighboring East Liberty, officials said. Read more: Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook
2014-06-30 11:54:29
May I recommend the short documentary from 2008 titled East of Liberty by Chris Ivey. It's available at local libraries and in broken up and longer segments online. In the video, the owner of the shadow lounge (which has been shut down, due to gentrification) says "look at Lincoln and Larimer next, that's where they're going to develop next." People have argued that gentrification isn't happening on this board before, but in my mind, it's clearly happening. The people who lived in East Liberty didn't have their income magically increase. They're just being displaced. Those original residents aren't the ones shopping in fancy designer kitchen stores. The documentary highlights some of those residents. I'd be interested in seeing the specifics of where this money is going. I'm continually tired of what is essentially corporate welfare to help developers develop crap for upper income consumers. The only thing I've seen for the existing community is senior residence housing, which is, eh, okay, but it's still just putting people in a perpetual renting situation and taking money out of a family that may have otherwise (or if given the opportunity) have stayed within a family.
2014-06-30 13:15:19
I think it benefits residents very well. If you own a house in east liberty prior to all of the development, your property value has gone way up. It's one of the risks of owning property.
2014-06-30 14:31:14
Well, here are some specifics: rebuild housing, parks, streets and social services in the city's Larimer neighborhood. development of 350 homes during the next decade, including both affordable and market-rate units grant for new green and sustainable housing developments in East Liberty and Larimer that would provide 2,000 new jobs to the community We can quibble, but that sounds reasonable in terms of housing and jobs for local residents. You have to start somehow.
2014-06-30 15:40:32
@Pierce, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you're on to something here, and it's buried in the sugar coating of the clip of the article that @Ahlir quoted: "...sustainable housing developments ... that would provide 2,000 new jobs to the community..." All too often, those construction jobs end up being contracted out to subcontractors, and the actual people getting paid the $25-50/hour to do whatever are white guys commuting in from 15+ miles out of the city, and the locals get to scrounge for a couple crumbs, like maybe some minor landscaping work, and precious little else.
2014-06-30 16:17:01
Republicans on the trib comments page hate it... Anarchists on the bike pittsburgh message board hate it.... Nobdy is ever happy!
2014-06-30 16:33:18
The community plan in Larimer is the result of a long and involved community process that prioritized the desires of residents. As for the gentrification/displacement issue, the most struggling neighborhoods in Pittsburgh have seen massive depopulation. To revitalize them, you need to get people to move in, and it's good for the neighborhood if some of those people are affluent. There certainly needs to be an effort to maintain affordability (which I believe there is in Larimer, and frankly, also in East Liberty), but the negative reaction to development strikes me as a good way to have permanently depressed communities. Check out the Larimer plan and it's history, and I think you'll find there's a lot to be positive about.
2014-06-30 17:14:16
I may be mistaken but government contracts do mandate minority hiring. Commercial development will generate jobs, some, maybe a bunch, will go to local residents. Or not. If you have better ideas, let's hear them. The underlying problems are more fundamental and are not solvable simply by doing something different in the context of Larimer redevelopment. [I glanced at the Trib comments; one of them seemed to suggest herding the local onto trains and shipping them off to, um, somewhere. Note: I'm unpacking their words. A bit. But it's the Trib, give 'em a break..] [Anarcho-syndicalism is a perfectly reasonably economic model, at least for the small to moderate-scale enterprise. It does not imply not doing anything, however imperfect, in the public sphere. But that's a different discussion.]
2014-06-30 17:16:05
Not a big fan of strong arm government making those who invest money in an area guarantee jobs to locals. Some folks are under the impression that jobs building homes and laying down concrete, etc. are jobs anyone can do. I assure you they are NOT and you do need to hire qualified people. If they come from 15 miles away, so be it. I always get a kick out of people saying, hire the local folks. Well, if the local folks have 10 years experience finishing drywall or doing roof work, then great. Most of the time the locals know nothing about the industry at all and are looking for some handout. The real world doesn't work that way. If there are so many skilled laborers in Larimer, why is it in such incredible disrepair? Let migration take place and if people destroy an area, they are moved to another area. We shouldn't cater to them to be honest. Larimer has been a mess for a very long time with buildings actually falling over. Hope people move in and fix things up from out of the region. Maybe they can rebuild it. It certainly won't happen from within.
2014-06-30 18:09:12
"We shouldn’t cater to them to be honest. Larimer has been a mess for a very long time with buildings actually falling over." Oh boy... Anyone have any good book suggestions for gg? I don't feel like diving into this can of worms.
2014-06-30 18:43:53
I like it. Lincoln / Larimer is prime for redevelopment. I ride through the back streets, looking at the empty lots, and dream about urban farming. The amount of open space in such close proximity to hospitals, universities, etc. is unmatched anywhere. From a purely personal standpoint, I could care less who does the work, as long as it is done well. Same for the people that will eventually live there, as long as the properties are taken care of, I don't care who lives in them.
2014-06-30 19:18:26
I ride through the back streets, looking at the empty lots Me too. But someone has to put money into it. The redevelopment grants will get the process started. No one else is willing to do it first. Once it takes hold the others will start investing. This is why we have civil government. @gg: You're mistaken. Hiring locals and minorities never means they're the only ones that get to do all the work. The master carpenter might well be from 15 miles away (which actually I doubt) but the apprentice might as well be a local. He or she learns the trade, and next time maybe they get the better job: They'll have that experience you're talking about. That's how it ought to work, except that some people will come up with all sorts of bogus excuses to exclude those local people from the system. Sadly, some of the former even get elected. Maybe you should take a ride through Larimer sometime. Don't worry, it's safe. And the people there seem about as normal as everywhere else.
2014-06-30 19:45:46
A company should have the right to hire whoever they want.
2014-06-30 20:18:37
A society should have the right to take care of all of its members. Also, the customer is always right. If the customer wants you to use a certain kind of labor (or a certain color of paint), you do it or you don't get the job. You're not the only provider (thankfully), there's others who know how to do it, likely as as well and probably better.
2014-06-30 21:53:06
There's also the issue of winning a contract... if the contract specifies who needs to be hired, than that is part of the deal. Or to put it another way, a government funding a project has a right to hire whatever company it wants with respect to meeting criteria laid out in a given contract.
2014-06-30 22:03:37
2014-07-01 00:44:56
Go home, quizbot, you're drunk. btw, wtf is an "origin nerd?"
2014-07-01 01:12:09
2014-07-01 07:30:42
Under-educated question: is gentrification analogous to the job loss due to increased automation in industry or is it more of a drawn out consequence of the increased automation?
2014-07-01 08:29:59
I don't know enough (or any) of Larimer's history to answer that. I agree the devil's in the details. I'd be interested to know the mix of market rate versus affordable housing and things like that. I'm also still concerned about the proliferation of rental-only housing on both affordable and market rate end of the spectrum. In another thread we were talking about Braddock and how the mayor said "Gentrification can never happen here because of how depopulated it is." My feeling is that there is only so much affordable, in repairable shape housing around. At some point, all the easily fixable housing will be bought up, leaving what's left to either be torn down or taken on by people with enough cash to bankroll big projects. It then turns into rental housing, again, of either affordable or market rate, and then where does that put a community and its residents? Even in recent memory, we have prime examples of money designated for blighted communities going towards crap that isn't going to help the populations the grant money was designed for. Look at the Whole Foods bridge. Look at Bakery Square, which as the previously mentioned documentary pointed out, got development money for being in blighted "larimer" even though Bakery Square has no connection to Larimer and the residents sure as hell aren't going over there What press releases say and what actually happens on the ground don't always line up in ways we expect
2014-07-01 10:45:21
Bakery Square could be a huge help to people in Larimer as far as jobs go. I don't know if they capitalized on it. My understanding is some of these new businesses tried to hire "local people" first and many didn't show up to work and lots of them stole things from the businesses. I think we need to look at things realistically. There are plenty of people that don't want to work out there on top of all this. The city of Pittsburgh needs money to grow and clean up areas and that money comes from city residents that have good jobs and are paying into the wage tax and property taxes. You can't get money from broke people with very little ambition, so the balance has to shift no matter how you look at it. The key word here is "realistic". As much as we like to pretend there is some grass roots revitalization going on, it isn't that at all. It is almost ALL coming from outside sources and money. Anyway, I think it is good news that they are going to try and fix things up, don't you? There are literally buildings falling to the ground in that area and a TON of empty lots. It really could be exciting. EricF had a nice vision with community gardens everywhere and such. I think that would be really cool. They have the land and the terrain is really good there. What a great location for cycling and walking. Hope it turns out to be a very special place with a lot less crime.
2014-07-01 11:09:43
If a company is being pressured to hire local workers and it doesn't want to, it can just just make a bunch of unsuitable hires, then fire the people. gg describes this pretty well. As he says the keywiord is is "realistic" If companies don't make - and don't care to make - an commitment to the local people, it is difiicult to support this. gg do you think ("realistically") the Bakery Square Panera Bread made an adequite effort to rid that shop of their local legacy of racial profiling in their hiring? I mean, i suppose they might have, but it seems unlikely they would make that massive effort without there being considerable publicty about that effort. And I don't see that publicity.
2014-07-01 12:09:31
Mick, remember the word "realistic" goes both ways, not just from a company standpoint. I realize it is unpopular to think there are some people that don't want to work and are just hanging out dealing or whatever to make a few bucks, or some are on disability even though they are fine to work, but all that aside, some people from the neighborhood might apply and get a job, but they find out it is hard work and just don't show up. I have heard that this happened at a few bigger places in East Liberty and really what happened in the end was the local people didn't end up working at Bakery Square. I don't know about Panera. All these new places were hiring at some point to a degree, but keep in mind, some of these new places might have had several existing employees from other stores wanting to relocate. They would no doubt be first in line to open a new store for obvious reasons. If you want my honest opinion, the local people for the most part might apply and some get hired and then most quit without notice of any kind. Then you go to Bakery Square and blame the establishments for not hiring local people even though they did, but it didn't work out. There is a reason Larimer is as crazy cheap as it is and many of the people living there don't want to work much if at all. Yes, there are no doubt some hard working people living in Larimer, so I am not making some blanket statement. Never a good idea. Also remember opening any business isn't some easy thing to do. Don't you think the managers and owners want to be successful and they want the most qualified people working there? Remember, a place like a Panera might have had a lot of transfer employees, which would no doubt be first in line for employment because they have the experience and opening a store is hard. There will never be some easy solution and there are going to be growing pains, but at least something is happening. It is better than nothing IMHO.
2014-07-01 13:07:20
My parents grew up in that area (Dean & Larimer) in the 1940's. From hearing their stories over the years, the neighborhood was a melting pot of black/white, jew/gentile, itialian/german/etc. with the caveat that it was really people living beside each other rather than with each other. The one common denominator was that most were lower income working folks who mostly rented. Sure there were some who owned their homes (eventually my grandfather did after 30 years at Nabisco), but they were mostly shop owners or older people who had worked and saved for decades; they remember most of the young families rented, and upward mobility was limited. When race troubles came to the area during the late 60's people left in droves- white flight. But a lot of blacks left too since they were just as scared, and if you could afford to move you left. This left the very poor behind; then they tore the heart out of East liberty in the 70’s in the failed experiment of a pedestrian mall trying to compete with the suburban malls; busses started to replace the established trolley system; there was no reason to go there anymore. So an oversupply of homes/rentals with a reputation for crime and a declining business district caused a fast downward spiral. So now there is a plan for some development. I'm sure that the city council person representing this area is involved in all of this and he probably has the blessing of his constituents. If not they’ll vote him out of office. I’m not sure I will agree with what they end up developing in Larimer but that’s not my call, it should be the people that live there. Some people want gentrification while others will fight to keep the development out. As long as it’s a fair and open process I’ll let the residents speak for themselves.
2014-07-01 13:17:11