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City, county leaders discuss what's next for Downtown Pittsburgh amid concerns

City, county leaders discuss future of Downtown Pittsburgh
City, county leaders discuss future of Downtown Pittsburgh 02:38

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Downtown Pittsburgh is viewed as the center of the region. 

Coming out of the pandemic, there have been concerns about safety and getting back on track. City and county leaders tried to figure out what's next for the Golden Triangle with businesses and neighbors on Tuesday at Point Park University.

Some feel the city will enter a new Renaissance to remake Downtown, and Tuesday's discussion laid the groundwork for what's working and what still needs to be done.  

"Our job is not done. It's never done, but if you look at where we are and where we were, we've made some great strides," Downtown Neighbors Alliance Executive Director John Valentine said.  

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, Mayor Ed Gainey and Stefani Pashman of the Allegheny Conference took a few prepared questions and two from the crowd during the session. Others were followed up with emails.  

"There are certain elements that we still have to plan for. And we know that and we are working on it. There are no microwave meals in development," Mayor Ed Gainey said.  

There was an agreement that 2019 solutions will not solve today's issues. One of the questions asked was why businesses should stay in town. To that, the elected leaders praised the arts, culture and life. They said and the Cultural District confirmed that 80 percent of the arts base is back.  

"I do like the positive aspect of the meeting, but at the same time there has to be some realism to it," Quadirah Taylor said.  

For small business owners, they say what would help them the most is to have the big Downtown employers get their employees back to the office every day.  

"We're getting better than the pandemic, but not pre-pandemic," Emilio Cornacchione of Izzazu Salon said.  

They feel could trickle down to creating a safer atmosphere.  

"It will help eliminate a lot of what's happening," Cornacchione said.  

The Downtown Neighbors Alliance said there is a battle of perception versus reality. According to the group, crime and store vacancies are down. Almost 40 new businesses have moved into the neighborhood over the past two years.  

"The people that live Downtown and are coming Downtown, they have a different opinion that those people writing the comments in the newspapers," Valentine said.  

Mayor Gainey said some immediate work officials want to do is on Mellon Square, Market Square and Smithfield Street.  

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