East Carson Street Business District Strategy
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA)
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is the City of Pittsburgh’s economic development agency, committed to creating jobs, expanding the City’s tax base and improving the vitality of businesses and neighborhoods. This report was funded by the URA and Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus. A project team consisting of representatives from the South Side Community Council, South Side Chamber of Commerce, South Side Development Review Committee, South Side Neighborhood Plan Committee, URA, Department of City Planning, Mayor’s Office, Nighttime Economy Office, and Councilman Kraus’ office guided the process.
The South Side's historic East Carson Street business district has always been the heart of the neighborhood. After the collapse of the steel industry in the 1970s and '80s, leaders in the South Side worked to make East Carson Street one of the first urban demonstration Main Street programs in the country, implementing the four-point Main Street Approach to preserve the intact Victorian architecture while revitalizing the neighborhood business district. The South Side Local Development Company led the revitalization effort for nearly 30 years, until its closure in 2012.
In recent years, the corridor has experienced a transition from neighborhood retail center to a destination hospitality district. In addition, while the South Side Local Development Company experienced many difficulties in its final years of operation, its closure resulted in a lack of leadership, capacity, and management in the business corridor. The URA and community leaders desired a business district plan to identify the key developmental and organizational needs of the corridor.
Fourth Economy Consulting partnered with Tara Sherry Torres to conduct a business district planning and capacity building analysis to support the East Carson Business District Strategy. We analyzed data on the local market conditions and trends, interviewed key stakeholders, conducted intercept surveys and an online survey, and held community workshops to gather input from residents and businesses.
A business district plan for East Carson Street was the outcome of this effort. Through the community engagement and data analysis components of the project, recommendations were developed to support the East Carson Street Business District Strategy. These recommendations align with the four components of the Main Street transformation strategies: economic vitality, design, promotion, and organization. The recommendations in this report and the three-year strategy are framed around these four components.