CEO Note: April 2024

CEO Note


Stefani Pashman, CEO

As the most iconic and recognizable real estate in our region, the vitality of downtown Pittsburgh is crucial to the future of our 10 counties. That’s why it leads our 2024-2026 agenda for building the region’s future and why it should be at the top of leaders’ minds across southwestern Pennsylvania. The time for change is now – and we are poised to do just that.

I’m pleased to report that our efforts to spearhead downtown’s revitalization are well underway with plans to transform these 400+ acres into a destination where people don’t just have to be — but rather, one where they want to be.

In partnership with our county executive and mayor, as well as dozens of downtown stakeholders, each lending their assets, expertise, and ingenuity, we have built a shared vision for downtown and plans to drive this work for years to come. Through this vision, we will transform downtown Pittsburgh to create something better to meet the needs of the time.

We stand at a pivotal moment where we must come together to reimagine our downtown, make tough choices, and roll up our sleeves to get the work done. Change is hard, and it will take all of us to rebuild and reposition our downtown – using creative reuses of our built environment and innovative solutions to activate our public realm. 

As you know, Field Operations, a New York-based landscape architecture and urban design firm responsible for such projects as Manhattan’s High Line and Chicago’s historic Navy Pier, is our partner in identifying catalytic projects that will reshape the downtown environment and create a different value proposition for the Golden Triangle.

Their expertise is guiding efforts to identify the assets that make Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh and design a plan to elevate these spaces into vibrant, inclusive areas that are available all year round, attracting people of all ages, backgrounds, and interests to live, work, and play. The work takes a holistic view of downtown and is underpinned by an interconnected strategy that weaves in existing work done by dedicated downtown-based practitioners and ensures each element feeds the others. In execution, we will spur a new definition of downtown and, perhaps more importantly, how people use it.

What were once seen as barriers, bridges and rivers downtown, we must embrace and transform them into connectors to our adjacent neighborhoods to downtown. And we’ll look to increase the number of people who call downtown home — an effort that is inextricably linked to the vibrancy that comes from creating connections and establishing more places and spaces.

As we all know too well, the commercial real estate market downtown is evolving. Vacancies continue to emerge, suppressing tax revenues and creating pressing challenges for our local economy.

We need creative solutions to repurpose buildings that vary – residential options, neighborhood amenities, or even in some cases, demolition and a complete reimagining of the space. These are going to be some of the difficult, yet necessary, decisions required to move our downtown forward.

We will need to work together, make the hard choices, compromise when necessary, and find the pathway to fund the long-term revitalization efforts. We are working tirelessly to shape a package of public and private investment sources to provide the funding that will make this vision a reality. Borrowing from the best practices of other regions and cities, we are learning how to create the right blend of tools and funds to bring our efforts to life. Some of those tools, like the recently passed LERTA, are in place, others are to come that can revitalize downtown and main streets regionwide. Earlier this week, the Urban Development Authority announced that they have plans to fund multiple downtown conversion projects and just earlier today, a committee vote was taken on the enhanced LERTA bill, proposed by Councilman Bobby Wilson, and it is well on its way to a full council vote.

While we continue to plan, we are starting to see the short-term wins, but rest assured, we are all focused on the long-term success of our downtown.

The draft vision plan currently proposes four connective frameworks to revitalize our downtown. These include a cultural corridor, civic spines, crosstown bridges, and a perimeter loop to ensure all assets are connected, usable, and inviting for all who live, work, and visit downtown Pittsburgh.

We plan to share the full details of the comprehensive plans publicly later this spring, but, in the weeks ahead, I will continue to share with you in finer detail what this neighborhood’s future will look like. Visit IndexPGH and follow our newly launched social channels to read updates about the authentic, transparent work being done to revitalize downtown Pittsburgh. 

Because of you, our valued Regional Investors, we are making meaningful progress on this important work for the region as we build a vibrant, inclusive future for all.