“In Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, Home Depot is more than a building supply company. It’s an economic development stimulus,” writes Susan Glaser in a story in the travel section of the Cleveland Plain Dealer published today. “Community leaders cite the long-sought opening of Home Depot here in 1998 as the beginning of the neighborhood’s long, slow comeback from decades of decay.
“After Home Depot came Whole Foods, then Trader Joe’s, then Target – all proof positive that this once downtrodden area was on the upswing,” she continues.
She credits the latest resurgence in the area on the opening of two trendy hotels, The Ace and Hotel Indigo, which “elevated the area from burgeoning residential and retail center to up-and-coming tourist destination.”
The article ran three days after another feature about the Ace Hotel by the same writer.
Glaser notes that it’s “a vote of confidence in the neighborhood from two major hoteliers – Indigo is the boutique brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group – who chose this location over every other in Pittsburgh, including downtown.”
“East Liberty has this unique confluence of factors,” said Claire Hosteny, with East End Development Partners, which converted the neighborhood’s historic YMCA building into the new Ace Hotel. “Walkability, architecture, access to transit. It just has really great bones.”
While the writer mentions nearby Google, along with the retail scene in Bakery Square, she says, “The biggest attraction here, though, is the growing restaurant scene, with a dozen or so eateries clustered along Centre Avenue and nearby streets. Here, the new (Muddy Waters Oyster Bar
and the Whitfield
) coexist with the classic (Kelly’s Bar & Lounge
, a staple since 1950s, well-known for their mean mac and cheese and $4 drink specials).
As she documents the cycle of progress and decline in East Liberty over the years, she quotes Lori Moran of the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce who says it didn’t happen by accident, crediting “a slew of local developers and true believers for the methodical turnaround. It takes deep pockets and the ability to be patient,” said Moran.
“There aren’t many traditional tourist attractions in this evolving part of town,” Glaser says in wrapping up. “But these sites are definitely worth checking out:
* Don’t miss the East Liberty Presbyterian Church (you can’t possibly miss it – it rises above everything else in the neighborhood), a gorgeous Gothic structure built in the 1930s, and funded by the Mellon family.
* Check the schedule at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, a live performance venue named after native sons Gene Kelly (the dancer) and Billy Strayhorn (pianist). Opened in 1914 as the Regent, the theater was one of a half-dozen movie houses in the neighborhood during its heyday.
* Pittsburgh Glass Center, part of the Penn Avenue Arts District, offers a gallery of rotating shows (through mid-May, “Lifeforms 2016”), plus regular classes on glassblowing, stained glass and other art forms.
Read the full article here.