Friday, December 23, 2011

City Of Asylum's Bookstore/Cultural Center Approved In Spite Of Insane Car Oriented Zoning

Sometimes, I think all the posts I do about urbanism and design are a boring distraction on a blog originally started to cover the exciting cultural scene in Pittsburgh. But I'm constantly reminded how important they can be.

You may have been really excited to hear about plans to create a small bookstore/cultural center a few steps away from The Mattress Factory.

After years of complaints from residents about criminal behavior surrounding the bar, the Manteca closed voluntarily in April 2008 under threat of action by the Allegheny County district attorney a month after two patrons were shot, one fatally, upon leaving the bar.

At the time, Mr. Reese had an option to buy the bar as one of three adjacent parcels he wanted for an expansion of City of Asylum's presence and mission.

As Literary Ventures LLC, he bought a house two addresses from the bar in 2006. In October 2008, he bought the vacant lot beside it and the Manteca beside the lot. The two buildings will be razed to accommodate a nearly 4,000-square-foot building with an interior, glassed-in courtyard. The center will house a bookstore, a cafe, a public gathering space for readings, performances and other events, and two upstairs apartments.

What's not to love? A dangerous, poorly kept up bar and small empty lot in a still struggling but improving part the city is replaced by a small cultural center, run by a respected non profit. People can come and listen to poetry and music, thumb through a diverse selection of books, perhaps attend a workshop or class?

Oooops--wait--how many people? WHAT ABOUT PARKING??!!!

From today's Post Gazette

Zoning requirements for the integrated uses -- a cafe, bookstore and two apartments -- required eight spaces.

Thankfully, in this case of a popular project, in a very historic and walkable part of the city-an adjustment to these rules was made-after a study showing peak use would be unlikely to cause problems.

You have to wonder how zoning codes like this effect the rest of the city since the easy, default option is always to make more space for cars and less for people.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Not surprising... zoning seems to be an issue no matter what size the town is... coming at you from population +/- 250!