The Center of Growth Starts at the Square

Okay, you know you're doing something right when nearly 300 people fill up the grand ballroom of the Wyndham Grand Hotel before the clock strikes 8 on a Tuesday morning — especially after another winter storm dumped a new coat of snow on the roads and drop kicked the mercury to near zero.  Maybe it was the free Dozen cupcake awaiting everyone in the room. But we know that those early birds got a jump on the day's events to find out the big buzz at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership's 2011 Annual Meeting.

Now you  might be asking yourself this question about now...How does the PDP's yearly get together have anything to do with Market Square? Well, we're glad you asked. Because we happen to think that the Square is at the heart of Downtown's Center of Growth, which happened to be the theme of this year's get together. And while there's plenty of new growth all around Downtown, some of the most exciting projects just happen to be in or very near the Square.

Of course, the biggest happening in that area was the reopening of the Square this past spring. Counting everything from the weekly Farmers Market to the two-day 50th Anniversary Light Up Night megawatt bash, the Square hosted  nearly 100 parties, rallies, weddings and other happenings. And with a revitalized Square at its core, new businesses branched out in all directions. From the lux trappings of the Fairmont Hotel to the hip Tavern 245 on Fourth Avenue, that growth is spreading out everywhere.

Hey, we'll be the first to admit that 2010 was a great year for the Square and, in general, just about everywhere Downtown. But we think 2011 and beyond will be even better. One reason is the fantastic members of the PDP, who work hard to attract new businesses, residents and visitors to what we think is the city's top neighborhood. And if you checked out the local daily newspapers recently you probably spotted the story about a new project that will add another highlight to the city's already picture perfect skyline. Set to start construction in 2012, Millcraft Industries will build a 15-story hotel/office complex on Forbes Avenue between Wood Street and the Square. And in case Millcraft sounds familiar, they're the creative folks behind the Piatt Place condos at Wood and Fifth Avenue and Market Square Place between Fifth Ave and Market Square. So you could say things are already looking up.

In the more immediate future, you just might say that the days ahead will be a lot brighter. That's because artist Carin Mincemoyer will add a little bling to the Square when she installs her specially commissioned "Diamond, Diamonds" project will adorn two lamp posts on Market Street with 80 illuminated Plexiglas "diamonds" to commemorate the Square's past, when it was known as the Diamond.

And in one of his last official capacities as the head honcho of the PDP, CEO Mike Edwards announced 2011's new five-year plan that will guide us toward a more vibrant, prosperous and cleaner Downtown for merchants, residents and visitors. We'll also be building baseline data from the past five years so that at next year's Annual Meeting we can distribute the first volume of our "State of the Downtown" Report.  This annually updated report will track facts and figures that will help potential developers, retailers, and residents get a picture of our Downtown, its strengths, its trends and its opportunities. Even better, Mike, who's returning to Washington state to work with the city of Spokane, reported that PDP stakeholders gave us a B+ over the last five years for cleaning up the city's image and streets, a big jump from the previous C+ in 2006. Hey, we're working our way to the head of the class and won't be happy until we earn straight A's.

Well, we all know the future looks bright for Pittsburgh and Downtown — despite the Super Bowl! So, in the days ahead look for more Paris to Pittsburgh renovations, more new dining spots in Market Square and all over Downtown.

Last but certainly not least, we want to thank the sponsors of this year's annual meeting — the law firm of Leech Tishman Fuscaldo and Lampl and Huntington Bank. Their generous support is greatly appreciated. And we welcome aboard all our new board members and officers as they provide the PDP with their time, talents, vision and leadership.

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