Also includes Market Square

Also called Central Business District






Insights Prominent structures empty under Mayor Murphy's watch.Edit

Stubbornly soft commercial office market hits Downtown and the vicinity.

  • Difficult for landlords to find tenants and adequate rental rates.
  • Office occupancy at CNG Tower fell from 94 percent in 2000 to 66 percent in 2004.
  • CNG Tower, one of Pittsburgh's trophy building, at sheriff's sale: January 2005.
  • Downtown's average rental rate for Class A-1 buildings was $23.34 per square foot at the end of the 2004 third quarter.


"When we first purchased the property (CNG), we were doing deals north of $28 per square foot. But in the last several years, with the decline in the real estate market and uncertainty about the economy, it's been tougher and tougher to get tenants," David Matter of Oxford Development said.

Class A-1 buildings.Edit

  • USX Tower
  • PPG Place
  • One Oxford Centre
  • One Mellon Bank Center
  • Fifth Avenue Place
  • Liberty Center
  • CNG Tower, also known as Dominion Tower




  • Downtown efforts leave empty feeling Tribune-Review, December 2006 - 'There are certainly too many vacant storefronts and too many deteriorated buildings, but we're slowly coming back,' insists President Michael Edwards of the Downtown Partnership, which markets Western Pennsylvania's hub of economic and cultural activities.
  • Apartments, not condos, for G.C. Murphy site Struggling with economics of project, developer chooses rental units in plans to renovate old Market Square store, November 30, 2006, by Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Apartments are in, condos are out in a Washington County developer's latest plans for the reuse of the old G.C. Murphy store on Fifth Avenue, Downtown. Millcraft Industries now is looking to put upwards of 50 apartments in the old store with rents priced to attract Downtown workers earning $40,000 to $50,000 a year, Lucas Piatt, vice president of real estate, said yesterday. 'They will be some of the less expensive in town,' he said.
  • Group to showcase 3 Downtown structures Landmarks officials upbeat on restoring 5th-Forbes buildings -- August 11, 2006, by Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation views a $2 million-plus project to revitalize three old buildings in the heart of the Fifth and Forbes corridor Downtown as a symbol of a new attitude toward preservation.
  • City Paper Cover Story on Downtown Housing from August 2006, by Violet Law.
  • URA Board Changes The URA board is expected to move forward in August, 2006 with a proposal by the History & Landmarks Foundation to renovate three vacant buildings at Fifth Avenue and Market Street for retail and housing. The URA plans to purchase a deteriorating building at 439 Market from the city for $40,000, plus costs, and then sell it and two adjacent URA-owned structures to Landmarks Development Corp., a History & Landmarks subsidiary, for $257,000. The price would have been $300,000 were it not for a $43,000 credit History & Landmarks is getting to complete demolition on the city-owned building, which adjacent property owners have described as a hazard in danger of collapse.
One of the URA-owned structures involved is the old Regal Shoe Co., a favorite of preservationists. Mr. Dettore said History & Landmarks intends to keep the facades of all three buildings.
He said the foundation is considering either apartments or condos for the upper floors of the buildings and retail on the ground level. He views the project as a complement to much larger Fifth and Forbes initiatives, including the new PNC skyscraper, which will include housing, a hotel, and offices.
'It's a neat project. It's another piece of positive stuff happening Downtown,' he said.
Mr. Dettore said the foundation hopes to begin construction by the end of the year (2006), with completion expected next fall (2007)."

  • Partnership seeks tax hike for Downtown businesses Post-Gazette, July, 2006 -- The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership asked City Council to boost the amount it can charge property owners in the central business district to cover street cleaning, safety ambassadors and marketing. The partnership relies for more than one-third of its budget on a levy, approved by council 10 years ago, on the land beneath commercial properties Downtown. The group's take is capped at $1.18 million. That translates to a 3.92-mill charge on the value of the land only, not the buildings.





  • On the "Watch List from October 20, 2006 in the Pgh Tribune Review: The Market Square makeover plan. Pittsburgh's historic soapbox district long ago became a haven for bums. Late Mayor Bob O'Connor vowed to get rid of vehicular traffic and make it a wonderful green space. A New York consultant has unveiled its plan, a quadrant plan that preserves the street. Get rid of the street, make Market Square one giant contiguous green gem and only then will any plan be worthy of consideration.

New push for Downtown living won't just mean condosEdit

By Violet Law in City Paper in March 2007, [2]

Some developers and foundations are striving to build affordable housing to make for a more inclusive community. TREK Development, History & Landmarks Foundation plan apartments.

With a $3-million loan from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, TREK recently purchased the historic Century Building on Seventh Street with plans to convert the semi-vacant office building into 60 rentals >$1,200 a month and based on tenants' income. Half of the units will be reserved for those who make 40 to 60 percent of the area median income. According to 2006 federal statistics, the area median income in metropolitan Pittsburgh is $57,400 for a family of four.

"We're trying to serve the urban dweller on a budget," says Bill Gatti, president of TREK Development, who spearheaded the development. "We did wage analysis: People who make $19,000, $22,000, the cooks, secretaries ... they can't afford to live Downtown."

Like Gatti, some observers of Downtown development trends have raised concerns recently that many working-class people are priced out of the market even as the city's newly declared neighborhood is trying to attract more residents. [See City Paper Main Feature, "A Tale of Two Center Cities," May 9, 2006.]

But it isn't cheap to build Downtown. Even with the loan, Gatti still has to pony up $12 million to do the conversion; he expects to raise $7 million by applying for tax credits from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation started work last week to preserve three historic buildings near Market Square by converting them into seven apartments with access to a rooftop garden.

"We want to try to attract people who don't have the down payment for an expensive condo but who would like to live Downtown," says foundation president Arthur Ziegler.

The foundation plans to market the apartments to middle-income professionals and doesn't expect to make money.

"This is not a winning proposition, economically speaking," says Ziegler. "We're subsidizing the project." The foundation's goal is to make Market Square more vibrant by adding more affordable housing into the mix.

Meanwhile, city officials, foundation representatives and others involved in Downtown developments, who are part of the Downtown Housing Working Group, are encouraged by the Century Building development, which they discussed at the group's meeting last week.

"Our goal is to make sure Downtown is a neighborhood for all," says Mary Navarro, senior program officer with the Heinz Endowments overseeing the foundation's center-city initiatives and a member of the group. Navarro says this new development will be held up as an example that it's possible to offer housing to a variety of people at a various pricing levels.

"There are ways to achieve affordable and workforce housing Downtown," she says, but "these are prickly deals to make work financially."

However, developers say what serves the greater good in the housing market is good for business after all. "For downtown housing to work," says Gatti, "it has to have a variety of price points served."


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BID TaxEdit

Mr. Edwards of the PDP wants to raise the BID tax. His plans are for 5% increase each year. That is a 30% increase in about 5 years.

The PDP Ambassador program has failed. The Ambassador program have no training. It is contraversial. The program's players said it is unceccary and a waste of money.