South Side's Carson Street gets plenty of attention for its big crowds and sometimes hooligan behavior along the bustling strip between South 10th Street and the Birmingham Bridge.
But the really big numbers of people -- millions of them, in fact -- find their way to a more sedate, urbane setting at The SouthSide Works at South 27th Street.
Since 2002, The Works has evolved in stages across the one-time hellscape of the old LTV Steel works into a bright, cheerful place on ground where rust and mud ruled for more than a decade.
Now, it's a $300 million, 34-acre development marketed as "an open-air retail, office, entertainment, and residential complex -- a lifestyle center."
It boasts more than 330,000 square feet of specialty retail, restaurant, hotel, and apartment space and 700,000 square feet of office space. It also includes the SouthSide Works Cinema, a six-screen movie house.
Significantly, the complex also includes 84 apartments in a residential sector named "The Flats @ SouthSide Works" at South 27th and East Carson, offering 27 different floor plans, which include one- and two-bedroom flat or loft style apartments, with balconies, security card access and parking.
Brittany Mesing, director of marketing, said "We have estimated around 4-to-5 million visitors to The Works per year. We have stats from the cinema saying they have seen close to 300,000 in the past year."
Parking is always an issue on the South Side, but The Works handles it by providing ample spaces on a good news-bad news basis -- there's lots of it, but you pay. Rates are reasonable and deals are available from many of the shops and businesses.
For shoppers, many well-known brands are represented, including American Eagle Outfitters, Eyetique, GNC, Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), Urban Outfitters, Cheesecake Factory, Subway, T-Mobile, Citizens Bank, H&R Block and PNC Bank. There are dozens of others as well.
Some of the most popular include Claddagh Irish Pub, Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant. Also featured are Golden Triangle Bike Rental (in season) and Double Decker Tours.
As Ms. Mesing's numbers show, the complex is doing well and that means it's doing well for the community itself, in terms of jobs and taxes.
But does The Works benefit the South Side generally? Once hundreds of people are securely parked at The Works, are they likely to avail themselves of the businesses that comprise the traditional, sometimes gritty, "East Carson Street," as it's generally recognized, between 10th and 23rd?
Is a guy who enjoys a meal at bd's Mongolian Grill likely also to stroll down to Dee's Cafe for a draft of Iron? Is a woman shopping for sports equipment at REI also going to hike over to Bad Kitty Ink for a tattoo? Will any of them check out the landmark South Side Library at 2302 East Carson?
Well, you never know and there's probably no way to tell. But as The Works draws people and dollars away from other shopping zones -- like The Waterfront, several miles upriver -- it can't hurt.
William McCloskey is a writer and editor based in Regent Square. Contact him at email@example.com; 412-371-8570.