Hello Pittsburgh. Meet Beaux Arts. by Michael McAllister

Pittsburgh is evolving. From new, bold development plans around city neighborhoods to the stylish throngs that call the city home, Pittsburghers are looking beyond the status-quo for something exceptional and interesting.  This is most evident in how we live and the neighborhoods we call home.  Gone are the plans of leveling entire blocks for generic shopping experiences replaced with renovated loft apartments and new build in-fill projects filled with the urban dwellers that seek them out.  Downtown, Lawrenceville, East Liberty and everywhere in between. I am excited by it all; the people, the buildings, the neighborhoods, the new, the old, the design, detail.  So much so I could't just keep it to myself.  Enter, Beaux Arts.

Beaux Arts is the newest publication from Epic and looks to bring together an outlet for the new urban lifestyle.  Inspired by publications and design I love like Quarterly Collective and Dwell, the biannual publication will roll out each Spring and Fall highlighting the best in urban housing from post-war classics to mod open lofts and will include snapshots of the Pittsburgh urban landscape like:

  • Street style editorials from rising Instagram star Keep Pittsburgh Dope
  • Apt #: Glimpses into your brilliantly designed abodes
  • Forging Ahead: Details of new developments (apartments, shops, restaurants, projects) poised to shake up Pittsburgh

Beyond our print edition which you will be able to pick up across town from coffee shops to homegoods shops like hot haute hot & IKEA, we are also rolling out a digital site to find make your apartment hunt a breeze (coming January 2015).  Rooftop, gym, and Downtown?  Done and done.  East End with parking? Got that too. See you never Craigslist.  

We also want to know what you are up to! In your hood, your personal ecstatic, your Saturday morning Strip District routine.  Follow and tag us in your photos from across town and you might just land yourself a future publication!  


You should be a Shake Shack. by Michael McAllister

For the most part, the old guard Pittsburgh of yore seems to be either evolving or disappearing replaced with a influx of excited people.  Downtown is vibrant.  Urban development projects seem to be popping up everywhere.  This week alone we saw two announcements from Alco and Highwoods offering up office projects in areas where the original development teams seem to have stalled/dropped out.

Yet for all these positive energies there are still small nods to the old guard, things that should be amazing but end up complete duds.  One that is a thorn in my side every time I see it is the Cafe at the Point.  When it was hatched as a gift from the employees of PNC, it seemed ripe with promise.  A cafe with fresh ingredients, outdoor seating in one of the most picturesque locations in town with beautiful green wall.  Fast forward to today, you are lucky if its even open and when it is your options are 7-11 style hot dogs on a roller and concessions that belong in a county fair, not at the front door of a park named one of ten great American public spaces.  Everything about it is a miss.


So lets change that.  Lets look to NYC and the activation Shake Shack provides for Bryant park not just on the weekends but at lunch, after work, a late night snack.  Look to the cafes of Lisbon where you can grab a glass of wine and relax (State of PA figure out how alcohol can be involved, we aren't Quakers anymore).  We deserve better. Guests to our city and that beautiful park deserve better.  Out with the old/sad and in with the new.  We have six months til April, who's game?  BRGR, Bluebird Kitchen, Coca Cafe? Shake Shack? 

A New Transit Option: Walking by Michael McAllister

A friend of mine is moving to the Fairmont neighborhood of Philadelphia in a few weeks and I mentioned to her that my brother lives across town in Queens Village.  Without missing a beat she replied, 'Oh that's like a 40 minute walk from my place.'  Not thats a 5-minute drive or a 10-minute train ride, she led with a 40-minute walk.  As a reference, this is a girl that drives and has never lived in Philly.  Similarly, when I was last in New York, after dinner in the Lower East Side we decided to head to Williamsburg for a nightcap.   Rather than hop on the multitude of transit options (bike, bus, cab, etc), we opted for the 25 minute walk across the Williamsburg bridge along with throngs of others without a second-thought.

Walk! Philadelphia Signage showing a 10-minute walk radius

Walk! Philadelphia Signage showing a 10-minute walk radius

And it seems like this is the case in many places I been to recently.  Lisbon, San Francisco, DC. Some have hills, some are flat.  Some have a grid, some don't.  But what seems to be the common denominator is that everyone, tourist and residents alike, walk.

Yet in Pittsburgh, a city that recently ranked in the top ten most walkable cities in the country, you are hard pressed to get someone to walk 10-minutes let alone walk from Lawrenceville to Downtown (a similar distance to the aforementioned Philly reference). 

So how can we get more people walking?  Is it signage on major street corners that advertise walking distances to adjacent neighborhoods?  Is it maps with ringed walking radius'?  I don't know what the answer is but I do know that fresh air and a brisk stroll is a great way to get from A to B.   

Lets Make Pittsburgh More Like Europe by Michael McAllister

We could/should learn a lot from our friends across the Atlantic but here are just a couple take-aways from my most recent trip in which PGH could benefit from an influx of European habits!

  • Europeans Walk as a Method of Transit.  Not just around the corner for milk (although they do that too) but across town from dinner, to meet a friend for lunch, or to their favorite cheese shop.  Europeans walk everywhere.  And we wonder why they are all more in shape than us?  Not having that ingrained in us, Pittsburgh should look to way finding signs with rings for walkable distances; 5 , 10 & 15 minute walks to encourage more walkers.  A friend of mine walks home from Downtown to Lawrenceville and I remember someone remarking that it was crazy of her?  Really?  30 relaxing minutes to yourself to unwind from the office before you get home is crazy?  No, its a pleasant routine and one more of us should embrace.  Hills also will give you great calves.  
  • Public Art to Activate Spaces.  Portugal blew me away in this regard.  Alleys, abandoned buildings, swanky row houses all were hosts to incredible public art from graffiti to installations.  A dingy alley went from bypassed to a destination with the addition of color and artistic pride.  While seeds of this can be seen in the Cultural District, I would love Pittsburgh to embrace this outside of commissioned pieces and become something more organic and interesting.
  • Better Performing/Utilization of Public Spaces.  I saw examples of this in tiny towns like Cambridge, England and Sintra, Portugal to London and Paris.  Europeans love their public spaces and use them! From having a morning coffee in the town square to the robust picnic culture that speckled the banks of the Thames & Seine, Europeans flock to their public spaces at any opportunity they can.  And so should we Pittsburgh!  A picnic in the Point is incredible.  Mellon Park is a gem. Instead of spending weekends overly planned, head to the park with a picnic (and maybe a bottle or two of rosé, gasp!) and relax!
  • Small/Cost Effective Retail Space.  One of the most interesting stops we made in London was to the Shoreditch neighborhood's pop-up 'mall' BOXPARK.  The epicly cool collection of shipping containers took an empty parcel and transformed it into a destination of 40+ shops.  It was incredible to see the how big 160 sq/ft could live and how each shop envisioned the space differently.  Here in Pittsburgh I see a concept like this or even just smaller retail bays to allow start-ups and low margin businesses (flower shops, boutiques, bakeries, etc) to be able to open without over leveraging themselves with a 1,000+ sq/ft space and the accompanying rent.  Spaces like this would allow for businesses to get footing/traction and possibly grow in the future creating more dynamic offerings and services.
  • Cafe Culture. The Brits lean with a beer outside a pub on the narrowest streets.  Portuguese drink espresso and spill out onto the road while catching up with friends.  The French sip on a glass of wine at the corner brasserie.  But what did all three have in common.  There weren't aggressive signs anywhere saying that seats were for customers only or drinks can't be allowed beyond a certain point.  Because when they finished the beer or espresso they walked the glass back in, moved their chairs when someone in a wheelchair came by.  Basically people were treated like adults, something that is often not the case here in the States.  

Excited for Something New... by Michael McAllister

I'm eagerly awaiting jumping on my plane to head across the pond for the a weeks vacation.  I'm excited not just to get away and kick back but also to find new ideas and concepts to bring back home.  While what happens organically in Pittsburgh in terms of developments, projects etc is increasingly rising to the occasion; its also just as relevant to import tried and true ideas from other places.  

I'm headed to England (London, Cambridge), Portugal (Lisbon & Surrounding Towns) and Paris.  In the little research I did (shame on me) for the trip, there are several concepts that have me excited:

BoxPark, Shoreditch, London

BoxPark, Shoreditch, London

  • Lisbon's Street/Public Art
  • BoxPark, a shipping container 'mall' in Shoreditch, London
  • London's Markets...All of them
  • The European cafe culture
  • Lisbon's hilly topography and its impact on transit/transit options
Public art by CYRCLE, Lisbon

Public art by CYRCLE, Lisbon

This being said, I know I will come back floored by ten other things instead of the topics above. With that being said, Europe here we come!

Construction Round-up: East Liberty by Michael McAllister

Just a quick round up of the three large projects underway in East Liberty. 

2014...What I Love So Far by Michael McAllister

So yesterday feels like it was NYE and now we are staring the 4th of July in the face.  Its a little crazy.  But luckily for us, there have been some fun new additions to the Burgh so far in 2014 and some great openings and additions planned for the rest of the year!

Row House Cinema/Atlas Bottle Shop: Good design + good beer + good movies = Great new addition to Lawrenceville.  And its only going to get better.  Once lower level beer room is opened, Atlas hopes to have the most comprehensive selection of beer in the city to go alongside killer iconic films like The Shining and Amelie.   

Bayardstown: For a minute (and it was a panic-stricken one), I thought that Bayardstown wasn't bringing their cool backyard-vibe social club back in 2014.  Luckily for us, they did making summer 2014 full of BBQ's and fires alongside some random parties by groups like VIA, Pandemic, and more.

New Apartments: Whether is at Bakery Square or PMC Downtown, a ton of new units have opened up making it easier for the out of towner to get a place on the fly without having to troll Craigslist for days on end.   It also seems that the age of the roof deck has arrived in Pittsburgh which is a welcome addition.

Constellation Coffee: Delicious. Bright. Friendly. This is neighborhood coffee shop on Penn Ave has quickly become part of my Saturday haircut routine (along with Ryan Graham's $10 cuts at Franks Barber Shop), complete with a jelly filled donut.

Cortado at Constellation Coffee.

Cortado at Constellation Coffee.

Uber/Lyft: These services have been game changers for getting around the city compared to the sad taxi service that we all know and loath.

Butcher on Butler: The neighborhood butcher is alive and well in the former Fosters Meat location in Upper Lawrenceville.  Upgrade your summer BBQ with locally sourced and butchered meat from this friendly operation.

Trade Union: So I know its tacky to put your own things on your own site but Trade Union is one of those projects that has me excited about Pittsburgh.  In our first outing back in spring, the level of talent blew me away.  I am excited to do it again in the fall (with a little summer BBQ in the works for August) and meet more crazy talented PGH-ers.

Lost Objects Studio at Trade Union.

Lost Objects Studio at Trade Union.

New Breweries: The Brew Gentlemen opened their doors to their long awaited Braddock location, Hitchhiker popped up in Mt. Lebanon and several others have plans for the second half of 2014 (Voodoo outpost in Homestead, Full Pint partnering with Wild Purveyors, Milkman Brewery opening in the Strip, and more).  Pittsburgh you shouldn't be having any issues with finding a growler of something local and delicious! 

Sienna Mercato: While I do not put this three-concept spot in the love category yet (a like category for sure), I do love that its anchoring a new slug of restaurateurs (outside of Meat & Potatoes team) opening up Downtown.  Thinking along the lines of something for everyone, its my hope that the host of new spots (from operators like AMPED and Y Group) will add to the increasing vibrancy of the neighborhood leading to more apartments, amenities and hopefully growth of Downtown.  

What we are looking forward to for the rest of the year! Smoke (Lawrenceville), Hotel Monaco & its accompanying bar/restaurant (Downtown), West Elm (Bakery Square), Taglio (East Liberty), Market Street Grocery (Downtown), Tako (Downtown),  Bread & Salt (Bloomfield), Arde (Northside), aforementioned breweries (across town).


New Home...New Vibe by Michael McAllister

We are saying goodbye to our blogspot home.  She was a beaut but its onward and upward. With the change, I am prompting myself to be more diligent with my posting.  I will try my best to find at least one thing to post a week, whether its a quick thought or a more thought out (cough..rant..cough) posting.  I started with updates on developments and development sites in addition to news of the new and excited.  I want to renew those posts that in addition to challenging myself to myself to put more of my thoughts down rather than just have them spinning around my head.   So if you liked what you were reading before, please continue to follow us.  I hope to only make the content more interesting.

And in more exciting news, we aren't just moving digitally but also physically!  Come fall, I'll be calling Homewood the first home base for Epic Development that isn't my dining room table!  Big changes all around and excited for all of them!  Stay tuned.

A Splash of Life - Graffiti by EpicDevelopments

I might be in the minority but I like graffiti in the appropriate setting; dive bar bathrooms, boring walls, abandoned buildings are all free reign.  To me it reads as living art, always evolving with each pass (and can have much more public interest than a commissioned mural).  On a more basic level, its just a fun pop of color usually in a space that is otherwise lifeless.

Recently on a walk along the river Downtown (on the stretch from 6th St to the Stanwix) I thought to myself, 'Damn, this stretch is ugly.'  Whereas other sections of the park have been beautifully restored, the portion I was on has yet to see any renewed energy.  Instead of carefully laid flagstone and native landscaping, the span is dominated by an ugly patchwork painted wall to cover up what was formally graffiti.  Yet looking across the river, the views from this section are incredible and should most definitely command a better use.

I thought to myself, how could you make this stretch feel more alive that would carry minimal costs?   Certainly this stretch will be rehabbed in the near future (as we luckily have seen terrific investment in our riverfronts); but how could you do something of impact now to make it feel less of an after thought and an eye sore.  My thought...let it go.  Open it up to graffiti, maybe going as far to have a call for artists.  Can you imagine how much more interesting it would be to have a place where you visit to find new works each time? What if it evolved into an arms race among those that pride themselves in street art; creating an evolving, dynamic public art showcase?  Another asset for those exploring Downtown to experience?

The argument of course is that graffiti is negative and unsafe (which can be the case).  But if this becomes a place that welcomes graffiti, you remove the crime aspect of it and open it up people who just want their art to be showcased.  Below are some examples where you graffiti is not only welcomed but serves as a destination.  I would love to see works like this there rather than the sad shades of gray that dominate the space.

This cute yarn bomb is a welcome dose of color along this drab stretch.
Graffiti serving as a destination in Austin, TX

2014 Wish List by EpicDevelopments

A Cool Hotel Bar: With the arrival of Kimpton and Ace in the 2014/2015, we no doubt will have two fun additions to the bar scene.  But lets not wait til then.  There are great spaces that should be epicenters of cool and instead they are missed marks; I'm looking at you Tap Room, Braddock's Side Street, and Andy's. And it doesn't need to be rocket science.  Good music, knowledgeable/fun bartenders, and yummy snacks.  Maybe bring in a local taste-maker like Justin Severino of Cure or Brian Pekarcik of Spoon/Grit & Grace to add some flavor. What exist now seems much like afterthoughts rather than places that non-hotel guests would ever seek out.  These are also often times the first thing visitors experience, so that alone should be reason to step it up.  Doing it well: Bar at The Nomad Hotel or Redwood Room at The Clift.
Amazing underutilized Renaissance Lobby/Adjacent Bar, it should be a scene and its not
Design Continuing to be Center Stage: Mid-Atlantic Mercantile, Butcher & the Rye, Gaby et Jules, Grit & Grace, Pub Chip Shop, Lot 24.  2013 stepped it up with thoughtfully design (spaces/graphics/vibe) that enhanced the respective offering rather than leaving us underwhelmed.  But in PGH these guys are still the minorities.  We need to continue to push for design to be integral in new projects rather than after-thoughts.  Also, lets slow the roll on reclaimed barnwood, its a sinking ship.  New look: Scandinavian, clean lines...check out Table in DC for a simple but spot on design.
Butcher and the Rye's attention to detail for coat hooks under the bar
Table, DC 
A Good Sports Bar:  Not a bar with tvs but a sports bar, where there is volume for games (Industry you have about 10,000 tv's and you make me listen to Phil Collins during a game?!?)  that also serves as a hub for residents to follow their hometown teams.  You can go anywhere and watch the Steelers game, but try and find a place to watch the Bears and you are out of luck.  Solid beers and food would make this a dream location for a weekend in fall or March Madness.  Doing it well: Stats in Atlanta, 100% dedicated to sports without compromising food or vibe.   

Better Transit:  This goes without saying but if we all keep harping on it, maybe it happens quicker.  Maybe its an express, simplified alternative bus system like the Circulator in DC or Uber Car/Lyft (both rumored to come to PGH but no dates set) but something has to step up.  The Bike-share launch will certainly add a new element but there is still much improvement to be made.  I still vote for extending the T to the Strip as well.
Lyft's Signature Pink Car Mustache 

A good coffee and a good beer in the same place:  There are great coffee places in PGH and some terrific bars but where can I can go for both?  Obviously there are places where this can be achieved to some degree but I would love a place that is both relaxed and friendly where I can pony up with a laptop for three hours and not get the stink eye from my server for holding up a table with a tab of $10.  Doing it well: just about every cafe in Europe.  A closer to home example is Talula's Daily in Philly
Talula's Daily, Philadelphia
We are making some great steps PGH but for those of us that have been to Portland, Nashville, or DC in the past couple years, we know there is still a ways to go!  Now let's get crackin.

New & Interesting: Development News by EpicDevelopments

POSTED: A Preview by EpicDevelopments

For years one of my favorite blogs to follow in Pittsburgh has been Steeltown Anthem.  Run by local design connoisseur Mundania (Dane) Horvath, the blog simply and beautifully captures exceptional design, designers, homes, and more.  From the first time I saw Dane's work in action at a poster show in Garfield years ago, I have wanted to work with her.

And, I am lucky enough that the day has come!  Tomorrow (Nov 7th) Steeltown Anthem and TOWNHOUSE will debut POSTED, a local print show featuring the works of 15+ local artists.  The show features original (and in most cases numbered runs) pieces ranging from work-cut to digital prints  The show will open with a little fiesta featuring tunes spun by Matthew Buchholz, snacks, and local beer from 6-9pm and will run through Saturday November 9th.  A special thanks to AIGA Pittsburgh for sponsoring us and helping make the event a reality!

Featured Artists:
  • Alternate Histories 
  • Worker Bird
  • CommonWealth Press
  • strawberryluna
  • Wood Type Revival 
  • Matt Braun
  • Everyday Balloons 
  • Melissa Frost 
  • Second Block Studio
  • Stephen Knezovich
  • Andrew O. Ellis
  • Ryan Hamrick
  • Ben Sampson
  • Phil Mollenkof
  • Mundania Horvath 
  • United Pixelworkers
  • Dead Bury Dead
Below are a sampling of some of the amazing pieces that have rolled in.  If you haven't set aside time to stop in you to see us, you should!  It will be an amazing opportunity to snag an original piece to add to your collection for incredibly reasonable prices!  And if the amazing works and free beer isn't enough, TOWNHOUSE will also be previewing some of their handmade holiday items!

CommonWealth Press
Worker Bird
Ben Samson
Holiday Preview - TOWNHOUSE

2013: What We Love So Far (via Urbanist Pittsburgh) by EpicDevelopments

Mid Atlantic Mercantile: Carefully curated American made wares (and tons of local PGH goods too) shine at this tiny Lawrenceville boutique new comer.
The Mine Factory: It feels more of a gallery in New York rather than in Pittsburgh from the space to the shows they are curating.  A welcome and needed addition to Pittsburgh’s art scene.
Gaucho:  You can smell this Argentinian wood-fired grill before you round the corner and your mouth starts to water.  My order: bife del gaucho (cowboy ribeye) and grilled vegetables.
Thin Man Sandwich: Fine dining meets the corner sandwich at this Strip District cafe from husband and wife duo.  My order: The name sake Thin Man with bacon, housemade pate, and frisee
Gaby et Jules: Exquisite french pastries are lined up in neat and tidy rows ready to be devoured.  Just run an extra mile at the gym and go all out.  Its worth it.
The Livermore:  A couple drinks, a couple simple snacks, good times.  My order:  Negroni and Crustinis.
Everyday Noodles:  With noodles pulled fresh in front of you, you know this place is going to be exceptional.  My order: Soup Dumplings and pork belly sliders.
Jules: Lawrenceville got a injection of style when this men’s and women’s boutique opened in summer of 2013.
Franktuary:  The new outpost of the Downtown hot dog shop brought Lawrenceville a new place to grab a gourmet dog while washing it down with local beers/spirits.  My order: The Texan Dog with a pickle plate and a Full Pint beer
Tender:  Craft cocktails are elevated here to near perfection by a team of talented bartenders.  My order: Corpse reviver #2 and tater tots.
What we are excited to open: Butcher and the Rye, Grit & Grace, Atlas Bottle Shop, Sienna Mercato, Smoke (in its new Lawrenceville location), Row House Cinema, The Pub Chip Shop, NuUrbanist Pittsburgh

Building Boom: The Strip District by EpicDevelopments

The Strip is one of those places that every Pittsburgher holds close to their hearts.  Its that place that reminds us that Pittsburgh is a city, bustling and busy filled with quirky street vendors and institutional destinations.  It's one of the last places in Pittsburgh that feels unchanged by technology and time.  And while warehouse districts boomed in the 90's in cities across America (NY, Cleveland, Philadelphia), eroding some of the authenticness, the Strip just quietly kept on trucking as it has for decades before.  But now, it seems like, it seems like everyone is interested in the Strip.

Within the past year there have been several high profile projects announced, almost all residential based, which is poised to set the Strip down a path of change.  Here is a quick rundown of some of the notable additions and possible/proposed projects:
  • 1100 Smallman St, 59 Units, New Built
  • Wholey's Cold Storage Building, 144 Units, Renovation
  • Penn Rose Building, Currently on the Market, Potential 80-100 Units
  • The Massive Buncher Project: Proposed 750 Units in addition to sizable Office Spaces
  • 1100 Smallman
    Buncher Plan 
    Wholeys Apartments

    Here is for hoping that these projects take a page from The Cork Factory and Lot 24 and only add to the vibrancy and only make the Strip a more interesting people to live, work, or play!  

Good Design + Main Street by EpicDevelopments

There are so many things to consider when opening or operating a small business; suppliers, accounting, budgets; the list goes on and on.  But one of the most important items that can often get push the wayside is good design for things like logos, business cards, and marketing materials which can be terrifically detrimental to your company.  These items are the face of your firm.  You can have an amazing product/service but if the marketing does not align, then you are putting your company in a hole from day one.

And its not hard to see why this can be the case.  Design (and designers) can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the industry.  Often times there is no concept of price when using a design service and can range from the reasonable to the outrageous.  Terms and packages can be confusing.  So owners's answer (and in the past I've been guilty of this) is to be your own designer.  Well guess what? There is a reason people get paid to do this! They do it better; way better.  The result from a vetted professional is a cohesive and comprehensive package that matches your product/service with your audience and positions you for success.

But how do you change the system to make it more engaged with its client base?  Enter the new pop-up creative firm UpTo hatched by marketing and design firm Shift Collaborative.  UpTo launched in summer 2013 with a goal to bring good design to small businesses in order to best showcase their product/service.  The aforementioned daunting factors of traditional design firms are addressed by offering a menu of services with designated (and incredibly reasonable) price points allowing the business owner to select the services that they think will best serve their needs and their budget.  Housed in temporary 'main st' storefronts within each location, 'UpTaims to source locally and work with main street businesses to inject new creative thinking about how small store fronts present themselves,' says UpTo writer Eric Sloss.

To date UpTo has brought their services to Butler (see above for some of the killer work they did) and worked with clients ranging from a bakery to an electrical firm.  Future locations include East Liberty scheduled for Oct 14-18 with stops to include Erie, Latrobe, Oil City, Youngstown, OH scheduled to follow.  To arrange an appointment for the upcoming East Liberty event click here.  UpTo is also planning some pretty crazy things for the future.  To stay in the loop, follow them on twitter (@uptogoodthings) or visit their website (whatareyouupto.org).

Art as an Economic Catalyst by EpicDevelopments

Think about Pittsburgh in the past two months. A train full of musicians and artists took over The Pennsylvanian.  We've covered a bridge in yarn.  We're floating a giant 40ft duck on our rivers.  We are bringing in pieces/performances to Pittsburgh that have never been shown in the US.  And this week we are hosting world class contemporary and new media artists as well as major players in the electric music for the Carnegie International and VIA Festival.  Pittsburgh, you are killing it.

And while these events on their own are incredibly awesome, what is more awesome is the crowds they are pulling in. These showcases are drawing thousands of people, not just from Peters Township and Cranberry (though there are plenty coming from the surrounding suburbs) but from places outside of Pittsburgh.  At Station to Station, there was a group that I met that drove from Toronto to meet Alice Waters.  At Friday's Nightmarket on 6th Street, I met a couple that came in from Miami for the Rubber Duck because they missed seeing it in Hong Kong.  So they come see the duck or a festival but then also get a dose of Pittsburgh, from our museums to our restaurants, and go back to tell their friends how cool Pittsburgh has become.  And the cycle starts again.  And again.  And again.
Station to Station
And even without the visitors, these events are all getting incredible coverage from nationwide publications like Huffington Post, TimeWIRED, and countless others applauding Pittsburgh's bustling arts scene.  So what do you say Pittsburgh, lets become a destination for all things interesting in the art world.  Let Austin take South by Southwest (which  grown so large that it makes Austin uninhabitable for two weeks) and instead keep bringing incredible world recognized showcases to town along with new friends to see them!  

Fashion and Food: Two Events, Lots of PGH Love by EpicDevelopments

What: Smorgasburgh
Who: Michael McAllister and Kit Mueller
Where: 23rd and Smallman St (Lot across from Marty's Market
When: 9/21; 10am-4pm

Smorgasburgh is the first artisan food flea market to hit Pittsburgh and launches Saturday!  Conceived by Kit Mueller and yours truly, the event seeks to bring together high quality, local purveyors and restaurants in an event solely focused on food.  Come eat your way through 20 vendors while sipping on complimentary Full Pint beer from PortaKeg (the event is also BYOB, so go see Beer Hive or PGH Winery for other beverages to sip on) and listening to the tunes of Madeline Rae.  The event will kick off at 10am and run through 4pm at 23rd and Smallman and is free and open to the public.   See the invitation on Facebook.

  • Meat & Potatoes 
  • The Crested Duck
  • Espresso a Mano 
  • Marty's Market 
  • The Livermore
  • Fukuda
  • Lomito
  • Pastitsio
  • Tamari
  • Zeke's Coffee
  • Franktuary
  • Olive & Marlowe
  • Wild Purveyors
  • Bluebird Kitchen
  • The Pop Stop
  • Bedillion Honey Farm
  • Good L'Oven Bakery
  • Drew Pie Supply
  • Klavons
  • PortaKeg/Full Pint
What: DeadBuryDead Truck Show
Who: DeadBuryDead & TOWNHOUSE
When: 9/19 - 9/21; Opening party 9/19 from 6-10pm 
Where: TOWNHOUSE, 6016 Penn Ave, East Liberty

Fashion and furniture collide when local designer DeadBuryDead rolls into TOWNHOUSE.  Started by Brandon Grbach in 2005, DeadBuryDead is a 'lifestyle brand for the living' that produces stellar tees for men and women as well as jewelry and prints in Pittsburgh.  Come check out their killer pieces alongside new pieces from TOWNHOUSE this week from Thursday (with a opening party) to Saturday.  See the invitation on Facebook.

Ten Reasons to Extend the 'T' to the Strip District by EpicDevelopments

  • Extend T through the Strip District via Penn Station 
  • Two Stops: 
    • 17th Street Station (Stop along Busway, pedestrian bridge over Liberty Ave & rail lines)
    • 26th Street Station (Located at 26th St between Liberty & Penn, single track station in the middle of the street)
  • Extension Distances: 
    • Penn Station to 17th St: 0.46 miles
    • 17th Street Station to 26th Street Station: 0.70 miles
    • Total Extension: 1.16 miles (0.20 miles of track already extend pass Penn Station
Ten Reasons to Persue Project:  
  1. 'New' Downtown Station, Penn Station, already exists at proposed extension and is linked into the transit network
  2. Light rail tracks already run well past the Penn Station Stop (0.20 miles) and the East Busway is graded to support extension of the T, resulting in significantly reduced cost per mile (nationwide avg $40M)
  3. Extension wouldn't prevent buses from using Busway (dual track system like what exists at South Hills Junction)
  4. Penn Station could be further branded as dual Convention Center stop/Transit Hub
  5. Increased connectivity to Strip further supporting development of neighborhood assets including the proposed Buncher project  
  6. Could be spurred to continue through Lawrenceville via Railroad Street.
  7. Higher usages of the T by occasional users over the bus (ie people taking the T to Steelers games rather than work); justifying the change in transit mode
  8. Promotes progress in PGH continuing to better our transit network
  9. Congestion/parking relief on the Strip on weekends 
  10. Local/city governments pay only 20% of transits costs putting local dollars for extension within reasonable range; could also partner with local corporation as an extension sponsor to fund portion of project

Positive Steps: The Lower Hill Plan by EpicDevelopments

The problem with master/community plans is that they excited me...alot.  I get my heart set on a series of potentially amazing changes to a community or a neighborhood and then get let down when the plan fizzles.  When the construction for the North Shore began, it seemed like we were going to have a vibrant and exciting district for people to live, work, and play in the shadows of our newly minted stadiums.  Tens years later we have no residential (even though its one of the hottest markets), a commercial building poised for construction more fit for Robinson in its design/density and tenant mix than a bridge away from Downtown, and a couple hotels and office buildings.  Suffice to say, its not the stuff dreams are made of.

But there is hope yet for development around our sporting venues.  Enter the Lower Hill Preliminary Land Development Plan.  Released in May 2013, the preliminary plan details basic size/scope of parcels and planned uses.  And its good.  The project not only returns street grids to the Hill District, righting a wrong of 1960's urban design, but lays out of a course of development that is poised to bring life to the gloomy parking lots.

In total, the plan calls for 1,192 residential units, 200,101 square feet of retail space, 691,962 square feet of office space, a 150-room hotel, and 2,957 off-street and 330 on-street parking spaces throughout the project.  Ambitious, yes.  But can it happen?  Yes.  What makes this project different from a place like the North Shore is a diversified development team to spread investment and encourage building (especially building pace!).

Unlike the North Shore which relies on one developer (Continental Real Estate), the Penguins/URA are pursuing a diverse development approach bringing on residential developers for the residential components and commercial developers for the commercial developments.  Rocket science? No. More time/cost effective to get the project done and become a catalyst for future development? Yes.  

So here's for hoping.  The Penguins are poised to pick a residential developer soon so fingers crossed that we will see some action (potentially big/dense/awesome) sprouting up soon in the Lower Hill.