Market force: A makeover at PPG Place could satisfy an appetite

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It's one of the gems of Pittsburgh architecture. The shiny glass spires of PPG Place can be seen for miles around, and even up close the Downtown office center is captivating.

Now the owner says it's time that parts of the interior got a makeover, and the complex's visitors, customers and workers should be all for that. Highwoods Properties CEO Ed Fritsch said his company wants to upgrade PPG's retail space, some of which is vacant despite its proximity to high-traffic Market Square. One option he mentioned is replacing the food court, which has its own empty business counters, with a grocery store.

That would be a plus for the growing number of Downtown residents, some of whom complain about the lack of a supermarket. Depending on the kind of market it is, the store could also be a draw to the lunchtime crowd or a unique visitors' attraction all its own.

But Downtown is littered with dashed ideas for a grocery, and the owners of PPG Place would have to proceed carefully and address issues like convenience, pricing and variety.

The fact that Highwoods will tap the expertise of its executive who oversees the successful Country Club Plaza district in Kansas City, Mo., is a good sign. Downtown Pittsburgh deserves that kind of quality, and PPG Place can continue to play a part.

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