Public Comment on Future Use of Strip District Terminal Building
On April 5th the PFPC sent in our comments regarding the future use of the Strip District Terminal Building, specifically asking the URA to make development decisions that will positively impact Pittsburgh for years to come. Our comment letter is below. We'll continue to update our members on the progress of the Terminal Building as we learn more.
RE: Public Comment on Future Use of Strip District Terminal Building
To Whom It May Concern:
We write today to the Urban Redevelopment Authority on behalf of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC). The PFPC convenes over 80 nonprofit, government, university, business and community partners to build a just, equitable and sustainable food system in our greater Pittsburgh region. On behalf of the PFPC Steering Committee,we would like to submit this public comment on the future use of the Strip District Terminal Building.
We have followed this development with interest, given the central and historic location and function of this structure in our region’s food system. As an iconic distribution hub for our region’s fruit and vegetable production, we are pleased to see that the new development will be “food-centric.”
We encourage the Urban Redevelopment Authority to learn from the good, the bad and the ugly on how publicly subsidized developments have impacted surrounding communities, particularly as it pertains to food businesses. Such developments should carefully balance the need for large scale investments in and the potential to serve as tools for equitable development, healthy eating and market exposure for local food entrepreneurs and businesses. Rather than pursue a Baltimore Inner Harbor strategy of using public funds to subsidize primarily national chain restaurants (that pay low-wages and serve unhealthful food), we encourage the URA to look to other models such as Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Detroit’s Food Commons project or even our own former Pittsburgh Public Market.
Given our City’s commitments to resilience, equitable development and the advancement of our local food system, we strongly encourage that this development leverage our city and region’s food and beverage talent, assets and innovation to create an affordable, accessible gathering, commercial kitchen and food business incubator space. As a welcoming city, this space could be utilized to provide opportunity to the historic and emerging cultural and culinary diversity. Perhaps an incubator space could provide low cost of entry start up opportunities for local chefs and restaurateurs. Located in the city’s hub for food specialty items, this space could be a place for prepared and packaged ethnic foods and locally made specialty items.
We also envision this space serving as an educational platform and hub for our city and region’s food system. Through visual displays, kiosks and even programming, the Strip’s terminal building could pay homage to our history and point towards of future food system and how it is rooted in the sustainability, equity, economic opportunity and health of the region. These elements could point visitors to assets in our broader region for farm dinners, tours, products, educational opportunities and more.
The Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, as the convener of over 80 food related entities in our region,stands at the ready to provide input and guidance if that should be desired.
Dawn Plummer, Executive Director, PFPC
Mim Seidel, Chatham University, PFPC Steering Committee Chair