Monday, July 30, 2012

New High-Rise in Downtown Pittsburgh Means Jobs, Revitalization

The followeing is a guest submission by Mike Mikus, Director, Consumer Energy Alliance Mid-Atlantic

As the driver of the Keystone State natural gas boom, the energy industry has continuously pumped life into the Pittsburgh region’s economy and job market. With the recent announcement that Oxford Development plans to build a multi-million dollar high-rise downtown, the Marcellus Shale industry once again promises to be a valuable and vital contributor to the city’s revitalization efforts.

Developers are eager to build projects, such as this “350 fifth” tower – located on the block between Fifth and Forbes Avenue – as the availability of desirable office space in downtown Pittsburgh continues to wane. Securing a long-term lease with a large company – particularly with a key player in the Marcellus Shale industry – is a major key to the development’s success, and big name energy companies, such as Chevron and Shell, are rumored to be targets. Landing a big anchor to occupy a sizable chunk of the space would allow the project to move forward.

By rejuvenating the vast, yet mostly vacant building that will be “350 fifth” – the proposed $238 million skyscraper – with much-needed and valuable retail space, the project will prove to be a positive for both Pittsburgh residents and the overall downtown area, alike. According to Oxford Development, the project is expected to create hundreds of jobs, including 450 construction jobs and 2,500 permanent jobs, if the plan is approved as is.

However, as city officials are looking to encourage a renaissance of development downtown – beginning with the proposed new high-rise – the drilling ban that’s currently in place threatens to scare off such sought-after tenants. Along with local industries, Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl has expressed concerns over the negative effect the drilling ban has on the desire to relocate within city limits.

With so much at stake for the city, policymakers should reconsider the ban on drilling that could cost our city sizeable investments, hundreds of jobs and significant economic development opportunities and growth. Pittsburgh cannot afford to lose out on the impact this development will have on the local economy, job market and widespread revitalization efforts.

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