KDKA reflecting my concerns about Pittsburgh

There have been two recent KDKA stories that have absolutely reflected some of my worries about my beloved Pittsburgh.

Will the luxury apartment boom go bust was published on April 20th, 2016. Andy Sheehan makes the same points a lot of downtown residents have been making for years…and takes it one step further. I think the most important statements in Mr. Sheehan’s story are:

“[Hoddy] Hanna, of Howard Hanna Real Estate, says much of the luxury apartment boom here in Pittsburgh and in cities nationwide is being fueled by easy financing and unrealistic expectations.

Hanna says much of the job growth in the city has leveled off, and another burst of employment will be needed to sustain the boom.

“There’s going to be a bubble somewhere in the rental housing market in the next year and half,” he says.

So, will it be a boom or a bust? Right now, this luxury apartment boom shows no signs of abating, but only time will tell if this will be the first wave or the last one.”

I know many people that live in – or near – downtown and they all say the same thing. It’s part of the call for regulation from some corners of the city. How can the luxury apartment boom continue when most of the jobs being created are service oriented for the restaurant scene?

The next article that caught my attention was about improved transportation between downtown and Oakland:

Planners seek to reduce traffic congestion between downtown and Oakland was published on April 23, 2016 by KDKA’s Ed Blazina.

It starts with a pretty interesting statement on the local transportation infrastructure:

“What started as separate transit and development projects in Downtown Pittsburgh, Uptown and Oakland are coming together as a sort of master plan for the future of transit in those areas.”

So…let me get this straight. Money is pouring into the city thanks to developers – from all over the country – with little to no improvement in the civic infrastructure to support it. The article goes on to say:

“City of Pittsburgh Senior Planner Jusin] Miller said in an interview Friday that among the ideas under discussion are:

• Rerouting buses Downtown to make it easier for riders to go from a bus to the T or to a bus that uses one of the three current dedicated busways. There would be common stations or stops all would use, and current difficult turns would be eliminated to decrease congestion.

• Turning one lane of Sixth Avenue, Downtown, into an outbound bus lane to move buses through Downtown quicker.

• Changing the Boulevard of the Allies in Uptown from essentially a limited-access highway with no connection to the neighborhood into a boulevard with sidewalks overlooking the Monongahela River.

• Creating an inbound bus lane on Fifth Avenue between Oakland and Downtown.

• Rebuilding Fifth Avenue in West Oakland.”

My wife and I just moved into the uptown section of the city and can see two major developments going on within a half mile of our apartment…both in uptown. It’s great that companies that can do return on investment reports and measure demographics for residential projects think uptown is a great investment…but what is going to happen next? One of the things that made Lawrenceville so attractive when it started was the mix of residential and retail investment that could be made at low cost. There just isn’t enough small business investment going on in uptown…which hopefully changes soon.

Jess and I have also been looking at some potential real estate opportunities in the area that could be had at very little cost. A few that could be converted into large residences. There is so much opportunity that could be had in uptown.

Things have taken a weird turn recently. This post sat as a draft for about a month…because:

  • decided to not have a baby. That was a gut-wrenching decision.
  • Jess unfortunately got laid off from the company where we met.
  • We had to put our recently adopted cat, Cali to sleep.
  • we got a new family dog. here is a picture.

our English Toy Spaniel - Angel

Raising children in Pittsburgh

When are you giving us grandchildren?

We’ve been hearing that a lot recently.

It’s forced us to gather as much information on raising a child in Pittsburgh that we possibly can.

Admittedly, we are being over analytical about it.

It makes us think..how exactly are we going to bring children into this world? We both have things about our childhood that we don’t want to repeat. We both grew up in households that struggled in one way shape or form and we also don’t want to repeat that.

Being your typical determined-but-totally-scared-parents, we are starting to try to plan. One thing that’s smacked us in the face is that we’re part of the HUGE swath of America that makes too much to qualify for anything beyond the Earned Income Tax Credit. We have debt just like everyone else and are terrified of all the associated costs like child care. How are we going to pay on our debt and have a baby to give him or her the best possible life Pittsburgh can provide?

When we started talking about having a baby years ago, we had hopes our incomes would have increased more by now. Of course…that hasn’t happened.

We are trying to compile a list of our options: Pittsburgh neighborhoods that can help us afford a baby and all possible child care options. Does anyone have a specific suggestions? I’m going to document the information I compile in this post.

update 4-20

Jess called Small World in downtown Pittsburgh and they are the cheapest daycare at almost $1000 full time.
The daycare in the USX tower on Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh is just over $1000 a month.
Duquesne University is just under $1000 a month.
We were told that infants in daycare were required to be “full time” – which means being charged 5 days a week.

update 4-24

We’re still trying to pull a lot of information together. We’re looking at day care accreditation. Here is a Google search I did:

day care accreditation Google search

When I click on the first link to search around downtown Pittsburgh I see this very informative warning:

day care research for pittsburgh

IMPORTANT INFORMATION — Before you begin visiting child care providers you should review their inspection reports, their quality rating (QRIS), and the information on required background checks. You can find all of this information here by clicking on your state.

 

 

Clicking through some of the links provided by the site I found a great description of some of the tax credits available. They can definitely help us – like I’m sure they do a lot of families – but its not the same when the up cost is a little out of reach or would bury you financially right now.

A link I found very helpful:

helpful child care tax credit information

moving into a new apartment near downtown pittsburgh

A quick post: we are moving into a new apartment with intermittent access to high speed internet access. I have more plans to keep expanding the site, the cool things to go in Pittsburgh calendar and to add more pages.

We’ve moved into uptown…less than a mile away from the Golden Triangle (downtown). It already feels like this area of Pittsburgh is more of an actual community and neighborhood than downtown is and could be.

HUGE props to State Senator Jay Costa!

State Senator Jay Costa is the Democratic Leader Representing the 43rd District in Pennsylvania. It is the district that includes downtown Pittsburgh. He is a superb community leader for everything that Pittsburgh needs…he even held a telephone community meeting tonight (Here is the link to monitor for future meetings! It was while I was at work unfortunately so I couldn’t attend…I miss SO much due to my work schedule!).

He recently posted an extremely true and great article on his Twitter account:

Senator Costa Twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and I responded:

my twitter response to senator costa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was able to have a conversation with a rep from his office about my concerns about downtown Pittsburgh. It was a frank conversation about the fact that…as many downtown Pittsburgh resident friends of mine have said…downtown retail is BROKEN. Downtown has one of the highest amounts of residents of any nearby neighborhood (12,604 according to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership for the area encompassing the Golden Triangle and parts of the North Side, uptown and the Strip District) but has trouble supporting a modern way for residents to get necessities like groceries. A friend of mine that is trying to put a traditional grocery store in the Golden Triangle recently got told by a downtown Pittsburgh civic organization to not even try.

We have chosen to move to a larger apartment in Uptown so we could be closer to our car. It’s the only way we will be able to get what we need to support our (hopefully) growing family. We tried to live in Pittsburgh without a car…but once you decide to have a child it’s impossible.

I appreciate Senator Costa taking the time to document my concerns and hopefully he will use them to continue to improve the state of residential infrastructure in downtown. I hope you will support him in all his efforts moving forward.

PS. I have been learning a lot over the last few months about the politics that control downtown. I – along with a lot of people that pay attention – have the opinion that downtown politics are a fractured, disorganized mess that hasn’t caught up with the current positive climate of growth. It’s also a shame that the city’s fortunes have changed so dramatically over such a short period of time…from virtual bankruptcy to a sought after hub of the modern urbanism movement. That drastic change has the city reaping the benefits of an updated and growing tax base…without putting much real thought into varying the retail side of the tax windfall.

 

carless in downtown Pittsburgh?

I’ve made no secret about what I believe is missing from downtown Pittsburgh amongst all the recent attention the city has been getting. Pittsburgh is NOT a carless city

I’ve been working with a few people that have been eyeing retail opportunity in downtown Pittsburgh and might be involved in something that could be coming soon.

We’ve enjoyed the attempt at being carless in Pittsburgh but it can’t be maintained. I’ve been at so many events in town where the keynote has been about the interconnectivity of Pittsburgh. One meeting was held specifically with a number of downtown residents and a lot of them talked about the *livability* of downtown: the trouble with parking, bicyclists not obeying laws in downtown and how far people have to go to get essentials.

The city has been VERY successful with connecting neighborhoods from a leisure point of view: Bike Pittsburgh, Healthy Ride, Uber, etc all make it easy to get around the city for fun. We use all these options as much as possible and they enhance life in the city…but more is needed.

I will be updating this post as more information makes itself available.