Some Doubt Support of Historic Preservation in Pittsburgh

By Brandolph, Adam | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 15, 2010 | Go to article overview

Some Doubt Support of Historic Preservation in Pittsburgh


Brandolph, Adam, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Despite Pittsburgh's rich history of preserving and reusing old buildings, local preservationists say political officials pay little attention to the effort.

"When you look at the mayor's history, you can see that he's been in favor of new development, no matter the cost," said Scott Leib, president of Preservation Pittsburgh, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the region's historic, architectural, cultural and environmental heritage. "It's definitely not surprising, but it is disappointing."

Citing concerns about the city's commitment to historic preservation, Michael Stern resigned as chair of Pittsburgh's Historic Review Commission, effective this week.

"In recent months, I have become deeply concerned that your administration's support is not reflective of the importance of this vital economic tool," Stern wrote in a letter to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl dated Aug. 30. "I cannot successfully preside over a Historic Review Commission that does not receive the trust and support of a city administration that shares an appreciation for the economic benefits of thoughtful preservation."

The seven-member commission recommends to City Council buildings that should be nominated for historic designation and has jurisdiction over proposed construction, demolition and exterior work on historic buildings.

Stern's resignation took effect Monday after he received no response to a request for a meeting with the mayor. Ravenstahl appointed Stern to chair the commission in February 2007 and reappointed him in July 2009. Stern is a partner at Strada, a Downtown architectural, interior design and landscaping firm.

City Planning Director Noor Ismail said Stern's departure "is definitely going to be a loss for us. …

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