Sunday, March 25, 2007

Let's do justice to The Hill. I love density talk

Let's do justice to The Hill - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Think wanton variety -- apartments, townhouses and multiple-family homes. Don't think tall. Think thick. Think Big Apple three-story brownstones. Think the South Side, not the Hill's suburb-like Crawford Village, which she calls 'admirable' but not nearly dense enough.

Expecting this generation of public-private power brokers to successfully rebuild a neighborhood destroyed by a previous generation of power brokers is, at best, a stretch. Gratz says success is plausible. But she also says it's a mistake to think the Lower Hill can be reborn without first fixing and repopulating the wrecked Downtown that former Mayor Tom Murphy's urban bumblings created.

No matter how the Lower Hill is developed, it'll be wise to ignore what politicians promise or predict. In 1956 Mayor Lawrence boasted at a conference on urban design at Harvard that, 'In my judgment, the redevelopment of the Lower Hill -- a giant bite from the core of the city -- will be the greatest of our Pittsburgh projects, under way or yet envisioned.' The Hill's still waiting.
Urban density works for me. Free market density works too. As does the land value tax.

When we tax the land and not the buildings, we'll get the most out of the development. But, they've already taken too much of the land for non-taxed ownership.

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