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Old 06-07-2012, 11:00 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
13,215 posts, read 13,426,339 times
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Although perhaps I'm using the terminology wrong, I've noticed that among Pittsburgh neighborhoods that have turned around, there are essentially two models.

One is a rise in demand which essentially happens spontaneously or with only local community support, which leads to traditional gentrification. Pioneer renters and homeowners move into the neighborhood. Cool things spring up along the main commercial drag. In time, developers start showering money on medium-scale projects. This is the path that many residential neighborhoods with a high number of single-family houses followed, including the lower Northside as a whole, Highland Park, Friendship, South Side, and now increasingly Lawrenceville.

On the other hand, there's a model of top-down revitalization pushed by developers first in areas with little traditional housing available on the market. You can see this in Downtown and the Strip District. This also seems to be the path that development is taking in East Liberty (21.5% owner-occupied), Uptown (37.2%), Crawford-Roberts (24.5%), and the Oakland Portal, which are all areas which do have single-family housing, but have the housing largely tied up by landlords and thus inaccessible to traditional urban pioneers, and have large commercial/institutional/vacant plots which can serve housing needs.

The only neighborhoods which do not fit neatly into this are Bloomfield and Polish Hill. In both cases, there is high demand, but little goes onto the market (and in Polish Hill, most houses are still passed down in families). Still, there has been a huge turnover in favor of young people, who for the most part are renters rather than homeowners. Still, no developers are planning major residential projects in either for obvious reasons, so it is more akin to the first case - as the demand came about on its own and not due to intervention by the city or any private group.

A question could be, what would be next?

  1. The homeowners who have been moving into Highland Park and Friendship are mainly the sort who want big old houses with charming finishes at cheap prices - people priced out of Squirrel Hill more or less. While there are still many old rentals to be converted back in these neighborhoods (as well as East Liberty whenever the slumlords decide to sell), the real deals now on these sort of houses are to the south. Brookline, Beechview, and some portions of Mount Washington are all areas you can get a 3-4 bedroom detached brick house, with original finishes intact, at 50%-75% of the price of the East End.
  2. On the other hand, many of the neighborhoods which have gentrified close to the city core have done so due to their urban character, walkability, and often access to a neighborhood business districts. The ugly ones cater more to renters, while the nicer ones cater more to homeowners. Upper Lawrenceville and Troy Hill are the only two mainly intact urban neighborhoods left which have yet to gentrify much, and they both have access issues. Both could appeal to renters, although they are unlikely to appeal to homeowners due to the poor housing quality. As I've said elsewhere, I think Millvale, although not in the city itself, has all the foundations needed to be the next it place. But really, the city proper is tapped out when it comes to the attractive, insanely cheap brick rowhouse market.
  3. As to revitalization, the South Shore is long overdue for something besides surface parking. Quite honestly, I've wondered lately about Chateau even more. Yes, it's a virtually uninhabited warehouse district. But it has access to the river and Allegheny trail. It only takes around 30 minutes to walk their from downtown - 15 to Allegheny Station. Besides being an actually in-use industrial area, it seems like a natural place for new development.
One neighborhood I could see going a bunch of different ways is West End Village. Although it's not big, contains many missing teeth, and lacks good walking access to anywhere else, it has all the bones to be a miniature South Side or Lawrenceville, including intact Victorian storefronts and cheap brick rowhouses. It also has a lot of industrial property which could be converted into lofts, and it's only a ten-minute bus ride to downtown.



Thoughts?
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:16 PM
 
Location: 15206
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Years ago I thought that the west end village could be a great place for new construction townhouses. Then they built the connector highway how they did and it made it not very pedestrian or bike friendly to get to the southside or the west end bridge.

Most of the businesses over there are art and design related. I've spent a lot of time at the tile shop and the kitchen designer there.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:38 PM
 
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There are more neighborhoods besides just Troy Hill and Upper Lawrenceville that are left to gentrify. I think for your statement to be true, you need to add in the caveat of being safe and not-depressed. Hazelwood, Larimer, Allentown, and Homewood are good examples of a few more neighborhoods that could be gentrified eventualy. The difference is that it would be a model not yet seen in Pittsburgh yet. Pittsburgh's gentrification up to now has taken place in neighborhoods that were cheap because they were run down or not filled to capacity. Much of what's left will face the extra challenge of questionable safety.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:59 PM
 
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For my money I'd be looking at Hazelwood.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eccotecc View Post
For my money I'd be looking at Hazelwood.
Definitely. It has the LTV site, a potential business district along 2nd, easy access to Downtown, Oakland, the Waterfront, and Squirrel Hill, and as much as it sucks that this is a factor, it's a racially mixed neighborhood.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:04 PM
 
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I believe Upper Lawrenceville is well on the way to gentrification... that portion of Butler has seen a ton of new businesses... like Cure, Wild Purveyors, etc... and the housing values have been amongst the fastest growing in the city.

Upper Lawrenceville blossoms with new businesses - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



Somewhat surprising to me is that most of the properties in Troy Hill declined in assessed value. I actually gave a couple friends of mine an exhaustive tour of the neighborhood last Saturday, and there are some remarkable panoramic city views from much of that neighborhood. I think it will be a solid performer in years to come due to its location, perception of safety, views, and structural density.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:30 PM
 
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Yeah, Hazelwood seems ripe for Model #2.

I also think the East Busway will continue to anchor expanding development zones, in places like Wilkinsburg, Swissvale, and, yes, Homewood.

Incidentally, I somewhat disagree about there being no prior model in Pittsburgh for pushing into neighborhoods with an "unsafe" reputation--I think East Liberty, and to some extent Lawrenceville, Uptown, and parts of the North Side, are proving that is viable.
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Old 06-07-2012, 01:43 PM
 
Location: O'Hara Twp.
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Highland Park and East Liberty have improved, at least in my opinion, because they have the type of homes that yuppies (if that term still exists) want and because they are in the East End. Let's face it, the East End has a ton going on. Google, CMU, Pitt and all the Hospitals. Plus Whole Foods and Target. ELDC is doing it right. Going block by block. Didn't SelltheBurgh say that ELDC has a stock pile of homes that they sell cheap to developers if they agree to sell them for top dollar.

As for the next area to take off, it has to be Garfield if they do it the same way. Buy up tons of cheap homes and sell them to developers a block at a time.
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Old 06-07-2012, 02:43 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selltheburgh View Post
Years ago I thought that the west end village could be a great place for new construction townhouses. Then they built the connector highway how they did and it made it not very pedestrian or bike friendly to get to the southside or the west end bridge.
True, the access to the rest of Pittsburgh is terrible. But given it's a short bus hop away from downtown, I don't think it would be the end of the world.

I'm not 100% sure new townhouses would be the best model. A few of the ones left are great, but given the commercial area is essentially half gone I think mixed-use infill focusing on the four blocks bounded by Steuben, Sanctus, Neptune, and Wabash would be a good first move. A huge number of commuters coming from the West End or parts of the South Hills have to pass through anyway, which means it would be good marketing for a destination. Residential infill would be nice too, but could probably take place surrounding the "town square"

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferrarisnowday View Post
There are more neighborhoods besides just Troy Hill and Upper Lawrenceville that are left to gentrify. I think for your statement to be true, you need to add in the caveat of being safe and not-depressed. Hazelwood, Larimer, Allentown, and Homewood are good examples of a few more neighborhoods that could be gentrified eventually. The difference is that it would be a model not yet seen in Pittsburgh yet. Pittsburgh's gentrification up to now has taken place in neighborhoods that were cheap because they were run down or not filled to capacity. Much of what's left will face the extra challenge of questionable safety.
Hazelwood was a big oversight on my part (as others have noted, with the LTV site finally being redeveloped, it's ripe for top-down revitalization).

As to the others, of course eventually, but I don't see them as the next thing when there are still both safe and affordable neighborhoods. We're not at the "bleeding edge" price point yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evergrey View Post
I believe Upper Lawrenceville is well on the way to gentrification... that portion of Butler has seen a ton of new businesses... like Cure, Wild Purveyors, etc... and the housing values have been amongst the fastest growing in the city.
First, take the assessments with a grain of salt. Notice that East Deutschtown's assessed values skyrocketed as well, despite the area slipping into an even worse decline (minus a few areas like Vinial Street).

Secondly, I live in Central Lawrenceville pretty close to Upper, and go up that way pretty often.

Butler Street itself has changed dramatically. Look on Google street view (circa 2008) and all you see is Remedy and blight. It looks almost unrecognizable now. But I've walked/biked/driven on almost every other street, and there are few signs of residential gentrification. No yuppie couples holding hands. Almost no mustachioed hipsters. No fixed up houses barring Carnegie Street. This is because Upper Lawrenceville is a "siding neighborhood," like Troy Hill and southern Bloomfield, and those little siding rowhouses by and large just don't have the curb appeal that brick ones do.

The biggest change in upper Lawrenceville is the black population is skyrocketing (around a third of the population now, IIRC). I have no issue with having black neighbors at all (I looked into buying a house in southern Garfield), but some of my neighbors who are long-termers are pretty racist, and I could easily see Upper Lawrenceville passing a "tipping point" and becoming a black neighborhood. Which is fine, but exchanging working-class white homeowners for working-class black renters isn't gentrification.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evergrey View Post
Somewhat surprising to me is that most of the properties in Troy Hill declined in assessed value. I actually gave a couple friends of mine an exhaustive tour of the neighborhood last Saturday, and there are some remarkable panoramic city views from much of that neighborhood. I think it will be a solid performer in years to come due to its location, perception of safety, views, and structural density.
Funny fact: Troy Hill was one of only 18 city neighborhoods which gained population between 2000 and 2010. Keep in mind that during the same period Bloomfield, Lawrenceville (all 3 parts), Polish Hill, all of the gentrifying North Side neighborhoods, Friendship, Highland Park, etc all lost population. Keep in mind though the white population declined by 12%, while the black population grew by 922%. This isn't as dramatic as it sounds, because essentially no black people lived in Troy Hill in the 1990s. Still, all the growth was due to it diversifying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robrobrob View Post
As for the next area to take off, it has to be Garfield if they do it the same way. Buy up tons of cheap homes and sell them to developers a block at a time.
Highland Park was built to be a wealthy area, like Shadyside and Friendship. East Liberty was built on a bit more modest standards, but still upper-middle class. Garfield is just standard detached worker housing. The only truly nice houses are in the blocks east of Fairmont. I fully expect this area will be annexed to East Liberty as it improves, but I don't see the appeal naturally spreading past this.

Last edited by eschaton; 06-07-2012 at 03:34 PM..
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Old 06-07-2012, 03:19 PM
 
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Do you really see Troy Hill hitting a different trajectory than other basically safe, but not hip, neighborhoods like Beechview, Brookline, and Allentown? I don't see it heading downward, but I would be surprised to see it truly gentrify (barring something unexpected, like a gondola or incline).

On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised at all if Upper Lawrencville gentrifies, even if it follows a slightly different model than Lower and Central Lawrenceville. The housing may not be gorgeous, but it's sturdy decently located. I think it could turn into a place with above-average rental rates.
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