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Pittsburgh's Downtown Thrives: Mayor's Meeting Charts Progress and Ambitious Future

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Mayor Ed Gainey has introduced quarterly stakeholder meetings with a primary goal: to highlight Pittsburgh's ongoing progress and its intended direction. The following points summarize key insights from the meeting.


residential occupancy rate


stakeholder meeting each quarter


new businesses in downtown Pittsburgh in 2023

When Mayor Ed Gainey came into office 18 months ago, there was a fragmented approach to help Downtown Pittsburgh recover from the pandemic. Through quarterly gatherings, key partners were brought to the table to formulate a shared vision for the heart and soul of our city. Through strategic collaboration, the mayor’s office was able to remove silos and barriers while improving collaboration in order to help make Downtown safe and welcoming for all.

This new partnership has been able to move on key priorities, from public safety, caring for our unhoused residents, to economic development, and tourism in order to continue the recovery Downtown.

In 2023, downtown Pittsburgh welcomed 26 new businesses, ranging from dining to retail, as part of the Downtown Neighbors Alliance's efforts to revitalize the area. These establishments, including Alchemy, Alihan's Breakfast & Coffee, and Art & Soul Cafe, added diversity to the culinary scene, while Balvanera, Beanery, and Beto's Tacos catered to various tastes. Cultural Hair Lounge and Five Below served unique needs, and with 12 more businesses set to open soon, including expansions like Barcelona Wine Bar and Millie's Ice Cream, downtown Pittsburgh continues to grow as an appealing destination.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust reported a resurgence, surpassing previous attendance figures for the Three Rivers Arts Festival, Broadway shows, and district activities. In the 2022-2023 season, the Cultural District achieved 81% of pre-pandemic attendance levels, showcasing a strong recovery. The Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival in 2023 drew an estimated 300,000 guests, and the Artist Market witnessed remarkable success, with 99% of artists earning over $1,000 in sales and 52% earning over $5,000. The PNC Broadway Series also thrived, attracting nearly a quarter of a million ticket buyers and over 14,000 season ticket holders. Notably, the Hip Hop 50th Anniversary celebration featured a sold-out performance by The Lox at the Byham Theater, with 60% of the audience attending a Cultural Trust event for the first time.

Downtown Pittsburgh is committed to bolstering its residential landscape. In Q2 2023, the area achieved an impressive residential occupancy rate of 90.6%, highlighting growing urban living demand. Recognizing the need for more resources, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) increased investment for the Downtown Conversion pilot program, aimed at transforming more spaces into residential units. Efforts are underway to establish a Downtown Real Estate Tax Abatement District and secure additional state funding for residential development.

To maintain cleanliness and safety, the City of Pittsburgh collaborates with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) to provide public restroom facilities and plans for capital improvements. The city expanded the Department of Public Works (DPW) with 40 new positions, increased alleyway cleaning to twice a week, and enhanced coordination between various departments.

Despite these efforts, challenges remain, including staffing shortages on nights and weekends, storefront blight, and rising substance abuse and homelessness. The city addresses these issues through improved coordination, increased Clean Team hours, and a public restroom pilot program, "The Pittsburgh Potty."

Pittsburgh is making progress in public safety, with plans to open a new Downtown Public Safety Center and 18 additional officers. Violent crime is down year over year, and through strong coordination with other law enforcement partners have helped to remove Downtown drug markets, while connecting with those who use supportive services.

In Partnership with the County the city has been able to build out a program to help care for some of our most vulnerable residents of Pittsburgh. These efforts include moving supportive shelter services from unhealthy concentration levels Downtown to more manageable and support-connected locations across the City, increasing the quantity, quality, and coordination of support services Downtown, and establishing a responsible, humane, and dignified multi-agency approach to encampments that center the health and wellbeing of unhoused residents while remaining responsive to overall public health and safety. The ReSolve team supports individuals in crisis, and substance use treatment events are planned for downtown hotspots.

IndexPGH was a key topic of discussion during this meeting, highlighting the importance of compiled data for informed decision-making. Both the inception of IndexPGH and the ongoing stakeholder meetings underscore the significance of data-driven insights in shaping the future of downtown Pittsburgh. These initiatives exemplify the city's commitment to harnessing comprehensive data to identify trends, address challenges, and seize opportunities for growth and improvement.

Through the collaborative efforts showcased in stakeholder meetings, such as the Q3 Mayor's Downtown Stakeholders Meeting, the city demonstrates its dedication to utilizing data as a guiding force in its endeavors to enhance the urban core's economic, cultural, and safety aspects.


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