Fellheimer believes our “small-city mentality” will change over the next decade—and Pittsburgh will see the development of the “far out places.”

“Market Square is the turnaround of the century—but four blocks away, nobody will live there,” he said. When he was working on Riverside, a few-minute walk from Market Square, the refrain he heard was: “Wow, that’s really far out there.”

Fox believes another vestige of old Pittsburgh that will lose its stronghold on our city’s psyche: “Those old geographic boundaries in Pittsburgh—the bridges and rivers—will be erased.” 

Ralph Falbo envisions the development of neighborhoods downtown.

“We have this jewel, this microcosm,” said Falbo. Residents can look out their windows and “see snow-covered trees on a hillside. There are not many places like that.”

Panelists also projected that the Monongahela River will have similar growth and success to the Allegheny River’s transformation over the past decade.

“Historically, the city turned its back on the rivers—our cars had oceanfront views,”said McMahon. But today, “We value our oceanfront properties.”

Panelists agreed that it was unlikely that department stores would return to downtown—and the future of retail rests in the development of the boutique shopping experience. 

As for the goal of 20,000 residents Mayor Peduto put forth for the next decade?

“Absolutely achievable,” says Piatt. “We will be a self-sustaining community.”

Of course challenges persist. When asked after the panel, Todd Palcic, whose most recent project was the sold-out Lando Lofts on Penn, told NEXT pittsburgh that in order to get more families downtown, the school problem needs to be solved. And in answer to a question about challenges to continued development, he said one long-term concern of developers is the low job growth rate of the city.

The forum was held by the PDCDC and moderated by John Valentine, its executive director.

Panelists included:

Ralph Falbo founder of Ralph Falbo Inc. (Doughboy Square Apartments, Market Street Grocery), Ethan Fellheimer, managing director of Red Rocks Group (Aria Lofts).

Shawn Fox, vice president, business development at Oxford Development (CONSOL Energy Center, Fifth Avenue Place); Bill Gatti, president and CEO of Trek Development (The Century Building, Dinwiddie Street Housing).

Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of The Cultural Trust; Jerry Novick, executive vice president and general counsel of PMC Property Group (The Clark Building, Penn Garrison Lofts); Todd Palcic of Lando Lofts and other properties along Penn Avenue.

Also Lucas Piatt, president and COO of Millcraft Investments (Market Square Place, Piatt Place); Izzy Rudolph principal at McKnight Realty Partners (Heinz 57 Center, The Grant Building) and Aaron Stauber, principal and president of Rugby Realty (Ewart Building, Gulf Tower).