ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Urban planners in St. Louis could take a page from Pittsburgh’s revitalization.
When the mills closed in 1979 in Pittsburgh and jobs disappeared along with a climbing debt, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says old money from the city’s foundations kept investing. “During the 80s there were some really amazing people who said ‘the mills are gone, they’re not coming back. That was very unpopular. Instead of investing in ways to try and keep an industry that was already gone, we built one of the first super computing centers in the country.”
His city once lost more population than New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, had a higher unemployment rate than Detroit and a bigger debt than New York City during its bankruptcy. “There were no federal programs to help us. We just knew one way: dust yourself off and reinvent yourself.” said Mayor Peduto. Investment in life sciences was also a major push.
He says another thing they did was to share services with Allegheny County.
“You plow streets, we plow streets, where can we plow streets together. You purchase police cars, we purchase police cars. Where can we purchase police cars together.” Mayor Peduto told KMOX’s Mark Reardon. He says it has saved tens of millions of dollars.
The Mayor is proud of the way his city preserved historic homes instead of tearing them down. “Instead of having a developer come in and say ‘Hey, you know what this neighborhood needs is a drug store and we’re going to tear down these four houses and build a sea of asphalt around it and your going to see development happen.’ we sort of put the breaks on that.” said Mayor Peduto.
They also created a one percent sales tax with part of the money going toward property tax relief.
Like St. Louis, Mayor Peduto says the City of Pittsburgh has not consolidated its government with Allegheny County. “There are 130 separate governments in the county and no talk of a merger.” said Peduto