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Dear Pittsburgh, feed your residents

Downtown residents hungry for a grocery store

Written By Carrie Reale

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We need to talk about how the neighborhood of Downtown Pittsburgh is trying to starve its residents. But not all of its residents, just the ones that can’t afford the $7 grape package at Market Street Grocery, conveniently located in the heart of Downtown.

It’s safe to say that any establishment that contains a coffee bar, a wine bar, gourmet lunch options and in-store macaron samples is not a functional grocery store for students, not to mention it is so small that you can’t even use a grocery cart.

Don’t get me wrong, Market Street Grocery is a nice place. I love going and entering the raffle to win free macarons for the 53rd time (and never winning), but that’s the extent of my experience in the tiny, well-lit store.

What I need (and what we need) as students and residents of the Golden Triangle is a full-functioning grocery store that is within walking distance of where we live. Whether you live on or off campus, I would hope that we can at least agree on that fact.

I’m tired of relying on public transportation for this. I’m tired of carrying heavy groceries to the bus stop, on the bus, then back to my apartment. I’m tired of having to pay someone (or something) to take me to the grocery store. And while the shopping shuttles are a gift from the university, they’re only offered at specific times every week.

The reality is that Downtown Pittsburgh is a growing, expanding area, both culturally and residentially. According to the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP), the population of the Golden Triangle in 2000 was 2,576. However, as I’m sure we can can guess, that number has increased over the past 17 years. As of 2016, the most recent report done by the PDP, the estimated population of the Golden Triangle is over 5,000 residents.

Considering that my tiny central Pennsylvania hometown of 8,104 people needs three large, fully functioning and separate grocery stores to keep it running, I think one grocery store for 5,000+ residents would be worthwhile.

Don’t you think?

Take some time and day dream with me for a second. It’s 4 p.m. and you’re done with classes for the day. You start thinking about dinner, and you think about what is in your cabinet. Maybe it’s a can of soup, a box of mac n’ cheese or a piece of bread. You think about what’s in your freezer, and then quickly turn away from the thought.

You decide to make the short walk down to the corner of Smithfield and Forbes where the four-story tall Macy’s department store once stood. Now it’s a two floor grocery store…with an escalator. You get what you need and return back to campus or the place from which you commute, eager to make yourself a nice, non-expired dinner.

But wait.

That dream is far from a reality, because instead of turning that space into a grocery store where the 5,000+ Downtown residents can buy food, it is a complex of fancy restaurants, luxury apartments and chic office spaces.

I’m not saying that if we added a grocery store in in this very moment that it would be a bustling business. We can’t know for sure how well a grocery store would be received by Downtown from a business perspective. All I’m saying is our neighborhood is on the rise. It’s slowly but swiftly migrating towards being a residential area that will hopefully, someday, stay open later than 7 p.m.. As more and more plans of luxury apartments are made, when are wishes for a grocery store going to become a reality?

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