30 Years: Pittsburgh's Downtown takes on a more residential feel

Part of the 30 Years, 30 Changes series on the Pittsburgh region

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Just as in 1983, Downtown is in the midst of change. But while its second renaissance refashioned the skyline 30 years ago, the latest revival is reshaping its very essence.

Three decades ago, it was the construction of office towers like One Oxford Centre, PPG Place and One Mellon Center that fueled the renaissance, transformed the skyline and eased a tight office market.

Today, it's not so much office space as living space that is spurring the resurgence.

Old buildings such as the Clark Building, the Verizon Building, the G.C. Murphy store and the State Office Building are being or have been converted into apartments. Others house condos. Downtown is becoming as much a neighborhood as an office and commercial hub.

Statistics tell the story.

In 1983, the Golden Triangle was home to half a dozen apartment or condo buildings and about 3,500 residents. Today, an estimated 8,700 people live Downtown, while the number of apartment or condo buildings has soared to more than a dozen, with more on the way. In all, there are 4,280 residential units in or near Downtown, with nearly 2,400 more in the pipeline.

The conversion of Point Park College into a university in 2003 and its ambitious strategic plan to develop dormitories and an academic village has also bolstered the number of college-age residents living Downtown.

That's not to say office buildings have been left out.

PNC Financial Services Group is constructing a $400 million, 33-story skyscraper on Wood Street between Forbes and Fifth avenues, while Millcraft Investments is erecting an 18-story office, hotel and retail complex about half a block away. Oxford Development Co. is contemplating a new 33-story skyscraper on Smithfield Street.

The residential boom and a $5 million makeover of Market Square also have helped to foster a vibrant restaurant scene. In the past six years, more than 20 restaurants have opened in the square or in the block around it, with more anticipated in the next two years.


Mark Belko: mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262. First Published October 12, 2013 8:00 PM


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