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Release Date: Tuesday, August 11th 2015

Smithfield Street Businesses to Keep Parking Spots

By Aaron Aupperlee


A plan to eliminate 10 parking spots along Smithfield Street to make room for tables, chairs and benches at the Port Authority bus stop near Sixth Avenue will change because some Downtown businesses complained they would lose customers.

Envision Downtown, a venture between the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership and the city to improve public spaces, intends to keep the 10 spots on Smithfield between Sixth Avenue and Strawberry Way and lose the tables, chairs and benches, Sean Luther, the group's executive director said Tuesday.

“It's nice that they're considering the interests of retailers who are on this block,” said Keith Rosenstock, owner of Canadian Fur Company at Smithfield and Strawberry.

Rosenstock and owners of four other businesses — Guy Herrmann of Carl Herrmann Furs, Jack Cohen of S.W. Randall Toyes' Downtown location, Dan Means of Sports World Specialties, and Yuriy Bekman of Yuriy's Jewelry — wrote a letter to the Tribune-Review saying the plan could drive retail businesses from Downtown.

They said customers depend on those parking spots.

“I think someone came up with the idea without a lot of thought,” Herrmann said. “I'm all for these improvements Downtown, but the one thing you can't do is take away parking spaces. That's like shooting yourself in the foot.”

Downtown retail will take a major hit next month when Macy's closes. Philadelphia developer Core Realty, which bought the Macy's building, said it plans to keep retail in the first two floors of the building and perhaps more.

Envision Downtown's plan would have removed the 10 spots to shift traffic toward Brooks Bros. and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and make room for an expanded platform for bus riders in front of Burlington Coat Factory. The platform was to have tables, chairs and benches for commuters to use while they waited for buses.

Business owners worried homeless people using the shelter at Smithfield United Church of Christ would loiter at the tables.

The new plan, which Luther hopes to present to businesses next week, would narrow the platform by 3 feet to preserve the parking spots. Parking would be allowed there during rush hour times, Luther said. Now, parking is limited.

“Our work on Smithfield does become more about improving our transit amenities, and I don't think that's a bad thing,” Luther said.

If businesses and the city approve the plan, changes to Smithfield Street could happen in the next six weeks.

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