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Convention Center Report Card


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Article mostly about how several functions of the convention center are still unused or underused because of the lack of a planned but as-of-yet built convention center hotel. Some excellent points made in the article including how Pittsburgh has lost over $500 million in the last few years because larger conventions (some that had national media coverage) cited the only reason Pittsburgh lost on the short list was because of lack of rooms and specifically lack of a HQ Hotel.

I also didn't realize that when compared to cities of like size Pittsburgh is VERY low on the list as far as # of hotel rooms downtown and # of hotel rooms within proximity of the convention center :(. This is not good news, hopefully the building boom recently in downtown (I am counting 3 or 4 new hotels coming online if my math is right), will improve our standing . . . but I really wish the commonwealth would get off its *$#* and get that HQ hotel deal through.

The "grand entrance" to the convention center is anything but that without the land for the Hotel being used properly :(.

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<snip> Pittsburgh has lost over $500 million in the last few years because larger conventions (some that had national media coverage) cited the only reason Pittsburgh lost on the short list was because of lack of rooms and specifically lack of a HQ Hotel.

Same old story, only the names have changed. All we have to do is look towards Philly and realize that we're too retarded to learn in the best possible way: from someone else's blatant mistakes.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I find it interesting when other cities run into the same situations that Pittsburgh does. I ran across this article about the possibility of Portland building a HQ hotel for its convention center;


I thought is stuck a lot of simarlities.

The Portland Development Commission, the city's urban-renewal agency, has started talks with developers who want to build a 400-room hotel next to the Oregon Convention Center. A team led by Ashforth Pacific of Portland has proposed a $144 million, 23-story Westin hotel.
Heywood Sanders, on an October trip paid for by local hoteliers, gave Portland leaders plenty of reasons to steer clear of a convention center hotel. His study, published in January, riled tourism officials nationwide for questions it raised about the merits of public investment in convention center expansions and the hotels built to support them.

The market isn't as ready as other cities that recently built hotels, Hazinski said. Its hotel room rates and occupancy are lower than other cities. The figures make private financing impossible, and any government funding hasn't been defined.
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  • 4 months later...

What completely boggels my mind here is why the papers aren't asking the obvious question (Journ 101 is who, what, where, when, why and how right?) . . . what is being done to attract PRIVATE financing to the deal.

Look at how many companies want to invest in a casino, again there is some public monies being discussed there, but if a Hyatt or Embassy Suites or hotel management firm could just walk into a turnkey publicly subsidized project like this and come through with the final $$, it would be a boardrooms dream.

Why are we not hearing this angle, even just to dismiss it? I know the story goes well the convention isn't attracting enough people yet blah blah, besides the chicken or the egg conondrum that brings up, Penn Avenue is jumping with several smaller hotel projects, there has to be a big boy in the world willing to take a bet on a 500-600 room HQ hotel.

Buller? Maybe I missed it but a developing series of stories on this angle would be excellent by the local media, whats being done, what the obstacles are etc.

It's like everyone assumes this is just a publicly funded project period, there are other better and very appealing ways to do this, I have heard the question broached before but never seen a reporter get down and dirty with it over a few months and really exhaust all that is being done and why certain things aren't or can't be done through private funds.

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I think, again, they are underestimating what Downtown Pittsburgh will be like in a few years. This article (below) says Onorato is relying on Casino Hotels to make up for lack of hotels. I think this is a mistake. I believe, as downtown transforms itself, it will be a great destination. I think it is unfair to talk of the Senior Games and The Bass Master classics, opting to stay at suburban hotels rather than downtown. I say look at the subjects of such conventions.

Relying on Buncher is a mistake also. They have proven to rely on cheap looking developments and the search for the quick buck rather than a true investment in the city. Buncher has the largest holdings of land in the strip and they are all the worst looking pieces of architecture and just basic industrial park type of structures. They have been a major obstruction to development there. I can only imagine the Monroeville type hotel they will slap in there. With their money it should be a palace, but it won't be.

Again, I say, patience. Downtown Pittsburgh is in transition and to jump into something or do it half-assed will be a detriment to downtown's full development. It was just a few years ago The Westin Convention Center was trying to expand their hotel by building a wall across Penn Avenue. YUK! :sick:

Penn Avenue is developing beautifully, upscale restaraunts, hotels, theaters and residential developments. It will be a great, world class vibrant urban strip. We must continue to be tenacious in demanding the best. We have been consistant in getting it. Perhaps the Heinz Endowment could somehow get involved. They have been a powerhouse in the Cultural District. I even suggest making the towers taller and having it as a mixed use building having luxury apartments with hotel amenities. This would perhaps attract more monies from private developers and allow the option of converting the apartments into hotel rooms in the future when needed.

It makes me angry to see our leaders selling out for cheap alternatives. It will not be an instant money maker, but an investment for the future. They show little confidence in the region by lowering it's standards and expectations now.




This incredible Convention Center deserves to have the original hotel planned for the site completed. To do otherwise will reflect badly


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I think the Convention Center is a work of art, and I'm not expert at the convention industry, but I agree with not just relying on casinos to attract tourists and conventioneers.

If Pittsburgh wants to be a world-class city, it needs to invest in it's future. That means attracting immigrants, building an extensive mass transit system, and creating a magnificent downtown.

We shouldn't even be calling downtown "Dahntahn". It should be the Golden Triangle, or the Triangle, for short. Innovation is key to the city's survival, not what NYC, Cleveland, Boston, of SF is doing. It's one thing to compete with the aforementioned cities, but when you imitate the cities in such bad fashion, you repulse so many potential tourists, students, and residents.

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Having a first class hotel next to a convention center is a chicken or the egg thing. People don't want to come unless you have a first class hotel and a hotel doesn't want to build unless there are people already waiting to fill it. I beleive other cities have needed to offer major incentives to a hotel group for them to take the initial risk.

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Can you elaborate more on Buncher? I'm not familiar with them... what "piece of crap" architecture have they erected in the city?


you can also visit them at Buncher.com, I am not all that familiar with exactly which buildings are owned by them and which aren't but they basically have the "industrial park" mindset where it is basically "build it to code and rent them out".

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I despise Buncher. They are sitting on all this riverfront land in the Strip and doing nothing with it. And I fear that when they do build, they will not make use of the riverfront. Or if they do make use of it, they won't do anything that the general public can use.

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The best tabulation of all hotel rooms and all hotel grades I have ever seen for Pgh (and I checked the CVP and SPC etc. etc.) is acutally AAA online, if you are an AAA member you can pull up a matrix of all the available rooms within 10 or 20 miles of 15222 and get the AAA grade of the hotel (instead of stars they do diamonds, 2 diamond, 4 diamond etc.). Pretty reliable and comprehensive, thing I like most about it is that you can directly compare and contrast Pittsburgh with other metros if you want.

You will have to do the addition though, AAA doesn't calculate the totals for all hotels in downtown, in 15 mi. of the point in 25 miles of the point etc. but they are the most up-to-date and comprehensive. There are some #s put out by the CVB but you never know if they are from last year (3 new hotels coming online in just the last 6 mo's right?) or 5 years ago.


As far as buncher, the best example of how they fence off the river and use rivershore as a bland industrial park lowrise, communist architecture from hell model is the monstrosity they have at the base of Mt. Washington facing Pt. State Park and Heinz Field, the building is not a terrible one--for an interstate junction in Wexford or Washington Co.--just that do we want UPS distribution centers and pipe fastner companies located on prime real estate directly across from the Point, Heinz Field, the Science Center and right next door to the Duquesne Incline, not very tourist friendly at all if you ask me. This is what Buncher does best, put bland industry 101 structures on rivershore property that could be so so sooo much more!

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I thought I'd introduce you to "Buncherland".

Thes are just some of Buncher's holdings. All in the Strip and a short walk to Downtown.

This entire parking lot is Buncher. The whole way to the Convention Center :cry:


including "The Boardwalk" or what ever they are calling it now. This is a remnant of the first time we were to get Casinos. It was meant to be a floating casino.


This is Twelfth Street between Penn and Liberty. I believe this is where they are talking about a new hotel.


another shot of the same, MASSIVE site. It is the entire block between Penn and Liberty and Twelfth and Fourteenth Streets.


This is another one of their huge contributions to the vibrancy that is the Strip.

It stretches from Fourteenth to Sixteenth Street between Penn and Liberty.

Now that is one exciting piece of architecture :sick:


and yet another...

2600 Liberty Avenue

Its on the railroad side of Liberty between 26th and 28th


Looking at its beauty from the 28th Street Bridge


Here is the "Liberty Technology Center"

It is also on the railroad side of Liberty between 21st and 25th Streets


Now this is the Seagate Headquarters. Their only attempt to actually add to the city. I imagine they had enormous financial help from the government to lure Seagate and get them this prime RIVER FRONT site. I dunno

I hate it.

It could be along the parkway in Greentree


So this is "Buncherland".

I'm so jealous.

With their money and these properties...What I wouldn't do.

Money does not equal taste I guess :wacko:

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Thanks UrbaniDesDev. That parking lot was actually the target of a nationwide architecture/urban design competition last year. It would be great to see one of those designs implemented.

The Seagate Bldg is slightly better than the nuclear bunker architecture of the other structures... but is still nauseating freeway architecture. Totally inappropriate for the urban core. These "technology center" buildings may provide jobs... but they could have been designed so much better... at present... they are fortresses of solitude that contribute some serious dead zones... especially in the area closest to downtown.

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Basically lowest common denominator architecture.

This is from their website:

But perhaps its most significant endeavor was to enter into the commercial industrial realestate development field where it was the first to establish an industrial park in the Pittsburgh region.


This was it's proudest moment, only problem is they have yet to evolve out of "industrial park chic".

I wouldn't hold my breath.

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