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People's Gas Holiday Market And Other Traditions Returning This Fall
Returning Traditions

A key attraction that will be returning to Downtown this holiday season is the Peoples Gas Holiday Market™ in Market Square. With outdoor holiday shopping offering one of the safest consumer options, and the reconfigured Market providing greater safety protocols, the PDP is excited to be able to implement a core component of the traditional Downtown holiday experience.

In addition to shopping from small-businesses placed in chalets around Market Square, the Holiday Market will again feature live music on its centerpiece stage, although this year the acts will be reduced in scale to allow for social distancing. A diverse array of genres and community acts will be featured every lunch time and early evening during the week and all-day on weekends. The market will officially open on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving – a slight modification to the traditional Light Up Night debut.

“Peoples is honored to join the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in presenting the Peoples Gas Holiday Market for the ninth year,” said Michael Huwar, President of Peoples. “The Market has become a holiday tradition for our region, and this year, more than ever, we are excited to host visitors in downtown Pittsburgh and raise funds for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The Market will look a little different this year to ensure social distancing, but local artisans and vendors from around the world will be offering unique holiday gifts right in Market Square. I hope you will join us at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market to celebrate the season.”

Look for the Holiday Market vendor listing, safety precautions, and more information to be announced soon.

A New Twist on a Familiar Favorite

A new addition this year is Santa Zoom: Live from the North Pole powered by Xfinity, which replaces the Santa House typically used for in-person Santa Claus interactions during the holidays. With kids very much accustomed to connecting with friends, families and teachers through their screens, Santa Zoom will offer a unique split-screen experience for a chat with Santa, who will be broadcasting “Live From the North Pole” due to his need to put in extra time at the workshop this year.

The new attraction is being located in a safer, more well-ventilated space on the periphery of Market Square. Participating visitors will receive and be able to view a video clip of their real-time interactions with Santa and easily share the link via social media through an individualized website. Open daily between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Santa Zoom is free with a minimum $5 suggested donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

“Downtown is at the heart of Pittsburgh’s holiday celebration, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer these reimagined experiences for our community,” said Jeremy Waldrup, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “We expect folks will be especially welcoming of the holiday spirit Downtown – something we all could use right now. The Holiday Market offers a terrific outdoor opportunity to browse and shop, along with dozens of specialty stores around Downtown, and our new Santa Zoom attraction is sure to be a hit with the kids, providing a great way for them to share their Christmas list with Santa while he’s at the North Pole.”

The development of programming that supports Downtown businesses through the upcoming holiday season will have heightened significance in a year that has seen restaurants and retailers so disrupted from typical operations. The reimagined experiences will offer a safe and responsible way for the Pittsburgh community to enjoy Downtown, and connect with friends and family, all while supporting struggling businesses.

Several other holiday attractions and surprises are to be announced soon, with a continued emphasis on safe, well-considered implementations.

The Holiday Season in Downtown Pittsburgh is generously supported by Peoples Gas, Comcast, The Kraft Heinz Company, BNY Mellon, Highmark, Pitt Ohio, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Fifth Avenue Place, and Shorenstein.
Fifth Ave. Place To Receive Makeover Courtesy of Highmark
Fifth Avenue Place, one of Downtown’s most distinctive skyscrapers, is about to undergo a makeover.

Highmark Health will brief the city planning commission Tuesday on the first phase of a $20 million rehab that will include exterior upgrades, a new restaurant and a raised terrace for outdoor dining at Penn Avenue and Stanwix Street.

The work represents the first major improvements to Highmark’s 31-story headquarters since it opened in 1988 near the end of Downtown’s second renaissance.

“These are natural upgrades to maintain the building and its integrity,” Highmark spokesman Aaron Billger said.

One of the biggest changes will be to the skyscraper’s main entrance on Stanwix Street.

The twin granite-covered decorative columns will be removed to create a more airy and light-filled entrance, with new metal columns and a metal louver screen installed over part of the glass curtain wall.

New sidewalks and plantings will be added outside to enhance the entranceway.
Similar improvements will be made to the Liberty Avenue entrance. The clock and existing exterior, with its brass highlights, will be stripped away. It will be replaced with an entry several stories high featuring mostly glass and metal columns and extending around the corner of the building.

At Stanwix and Penn, sterile sidewalks will give way to a tree-lined terrace with outdoor seating. It will supplement a restaurant that will be built at street level inside the building.

In a summary provided to the planning commission, Highmark stated that rehab “seeks to engage pedestrians and the City of Pittsburgh by visually opening the facades to the interior retail and public gathering spaces.

“This includes facade renovations to the primary public entrances on Stanwix Street and Liberty Avenue, as well as to the secondary retail entrances around the perimeter of the building.”

Work is expected to start in February and continue through the spring, summer and fall of next year.

The facade improvements are part of a broader overhaul that includes plans for enhanced dining and retail options.

For example, the existing second-floor food court is expected to be refashioned “into an expanded, more sophisticated format” similar to a food court. Mr. Billger said Highmark is “evaluating the right mix of retailers” at this point.

Fifth Avenue Place is home to more than 3,000 Highmark Health, Highmark health plan and Allegheny Health Network employees. It also houses about 16 other tenants.

The skyscraper, with its one-of-a-kind, 178-foot mast protruding from its top, is owned by Jenkins Empire Associates LP, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highmark. It replaced the storied Jenkins Arcade, which was demolished to make way for the building.
Standard Market and Pint House Reopens After Pandemic Stifles Debut
By: Abigail Young
The Standard Market and Pint House has officially opened in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. While the opening was interrupted by the pandemic, they’ve re-opened their doors to the public for dine in and takeout, with all the necessary social distancing guidelines in place to ensure a smooth and safe experience for their guests.

The Standard boasts a fresh, modern location, with a mezzanine on the roof, large street-side windows, and outdoor seating for warm days. And for the cooler months, The Standard hosts a grab-and-go café offering coffee and espresso. For those less interested in aesthetics or refreshments, the building also includes an arcade where guests can enjoy a game of pinball or pool with a drink from their full bar.

As well as atmosphere, the Standard offers a variety of American, Asian, and Mediterranean-style meals and snacks. Shareable appetizers include red pepper hummus, herb-roasted potatoes, and a variety of dips for veggies and chips, reflecting on the Standard’s preference for filling-but-wholesome food. Along with brined and smoked wings, they offer items such as their Power Up Salad, which includes kale, pea shoots, and medjool dates and a dish called Thai Dragon Ramen, containing egg, udon noodle, and mushroom broth, as well as classic favorites like cheeseburgers, paninis, and wraps.

“We couldn’t have done this without the support from the city and other restaurants in the community,” said Rachel Maga, the Standard’s marketing director. “This isn’t about competition between restaurants, they’ve all really come together to support one another throughout this time.”

The Standard opens 7 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. For their updated hours and full menu, visit their website at, or visit them in Pittsburgh’s cultural district at 947 Penn Ave.
Downtown Riverfront Property Seeking New Ownership
A riverfront apartment residential complex in Downtown Pittsburgh is in search of a new owner. The 18-story Encore on 7th, with its sweeping views up and down the Allegheny River, is being marketed for sale by the Jones Lang LaSalle real estate firm.

The property at the corner of 7th Street and Fort Duquesne Boulevard without a listed price. It is assessed at $21.6 million.

Opened in 2006, the 151-unit apartment tower was built by Lincoln Property Co. in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, which has long had an interest in doing residential development in the cultural district.

Kevin McMahon, president and CEO of the Cultural Trust, said the development — then one of the first new residential towers to be built Downtown in decades — “was basically a demonstration to test the concept” of urban living.

“In my opinion, it sort of kickstarted the whole residential Downtown movement. It showed that people would literally pay as much or more for a Downtown apartment than they would for a house in suburbia,” he said.

The Encore currently is owned by the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust. Lincoln still manages the property. Nick Matt, a JLL senior managing director involved in the sale, declined comment.

“Moreover, new Class A properties built in the CBD and Greater Downtown submarkets are obtaining market rents above $2.25 [per square foot], representing a great opportunity for significant rent increases at the Encore on 7th via interior and amenity upgrades,” it stated.

Mr. McMahon said the complex, which is currently 91% occupied, was considered a gamble back when it was built. The cultural trust sold the land for the development and selected Lincoln Property to develop the building.

“I give Lincoln and [former Lincoln executive] Kevin Keane tremendous credit for doing what many people thought was craziness,” he said. “The trust was very, very involved in the project. We were very proud of it. In my humble opinion, it was really the start of the resurgence in residential housing Downtown.”

Also part of the sale is a vacant 4,958-square-foot street-level retail space that for two years housed the Rosebud Fine Food Market before that closed in 2010. At the time, the market was the first Downtown in 14 years.

The Encore is the second apartment complex on the Allegheny riverfront to go up for sale in recent weeks.

Cork Factory Lofts in the Strip District also is being marketed by owner GMH Capital Partners. The 297-unit former cork factory opened in 2007. Also part of the complex is Lot 24, which holds about 96 apartments.

Gregg Broujos, regional principal of the Colliers International real estate firm, said he expects record-setting sales for both. “They’re high-quality products, and there’s a lot of equity sitting on the sidelines because of the pandemic,” he said. 
“They’re going to set records. People have to deploy capital, and these are two of the best assets in Pittsburgh on the multifamily side.”
Looking Forward By Looking Back: Pittsburgh Fashion Week 2021
By: Alexis Briggs
Beginning in 2016, The Downtown CDC of Pittsburgh took over Pittsburgh Fashion Week in an attempt to make the program a more “downtown centric” idea. Director John Valentine shared that in the beginning, PGHFW aimed high with their goals, only having three months to get their first show together, and ended up selling out and receiving amazing reviews. By highlighting Pittsburgh talent, designers who are not as well known are able to get together with models and photographers to create a vision never seen before.

Fighting against popular fashion cities like New York, Milan, and Paris isn’t a part of the goal, but instead, PGHFW aims to be the number one city when considering small fashion cities on the map. To achieve this long term goal, PGHFW unveiled the Pittsburgh Fashion Alliance as well as the Pittsburgh Summit. With these programs, designers can run tutorial classes, panel discussions, and network with other individuals. These programs helped to support this year’s 100% virtual event that included musicians, films, dance videos, tutorials, panel discussions, and podcasts that all received amazing reviews.

To get more information on Pittsburgh Fashion Week, visit where you can gain more details and future information about our program.
Film Pittsburgh Highlights MLK/FBI In Host of Films Set For Streaming Wednesday
"MLK/FBI” is an excellent, illuminating documentary. The film investigates the FBI’s investigation of Martin Luther King Jr. during the height of the civil rights movement — surveillance that eventually led to a coordinated attempt by the bureau to discredit King. It’s a stark reminder that even figures widely respected by history were often suspected in their own time. It’s also a vivid and entertaining film that offers its lesson in an audience-friendly way.

And the only way to see “MLK/FBI” is through Film Pittsburgh’s Fall Festival.
The virtual event, which begins Wednesday and runs through Nov. 22, includes 30 feature films and more than 130 shorts. While the Fall Festival name is new, the event is actually a synthesis of several longstanding events, including the Three Rivers Film Festival and Pittsburgh Shorts.

Kathryn Spitz Cohan, executive director of Film Pittsburgh, says the decision to mount a large, all-virtual event was inspired by the warm reception to smaller online events earlier in the year. “We have had such tremendous response to the virtual programming that we started offering as early as April,” Cohan says. “We determined it was in our best interest, as an organization, to always be able to offer some form of virtual programming.”

The prior programming included a virtual edition of the annual JFilm Festival, an event that had already been scheduled when pandemic restrictions began to set in. (A JFilm track, as well as programming from ReelAbilities and a sidebar of Asian films, is embedded into the lineup for the Fall Festival as well.) Cohan says while they wondered how audiences would respond to a virtual event, they were surprised to find that more people watched the films from home than might’ve attended in person.
“People said, ‘We would never be able to come to the film festival every day, but we were so happy to be able to, every morning, get that film in our inbox.’”

Cohan stresses that in-person screenings, when safe, will always be core to the festivals and events presented by Film Pittsburgh. A benefit of the virtual format, however, is improved access for those who cannot always attend in person; Cohan says that includes those with mobility restrictions as well as those who usually would simply be unable to attend every night of an event for schedule reasons. For that reason, she says future festivals will always include a virtual component.

In addition to documentaries and shorts, a series of comedies and dramas from around the world will receive virtual Pittsburgh premieres — while the event is online, viewers must be located in Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Ohio. “Freeland,” a drama starring Krisha Fairchild, serves as the Opening Night selection. The film follows an ex-hippie eking out a living as an off-the-grid marijuana farmer, whose livelihood is threatened not by opposition to her lifestyle — but rather by the fact that marijuana farming has gone legit.

It’s a fascinating, engaging film, emblematic of the types of movies in the festival lineup. “I would say that one of the things we do at Film Pittsburgh is really priding ourselves on the curation process,” Cohan says. “Our process is very thoughtful; we don’t just throw films on the lineup because [they’re] available to us.”

In addition to “MLK/FBI” and “Freeland,” Cohan recommends the drama “Havel,” about the Czech dissident turned politician, and the Brazilian festival hit “Pacified.” Don’t ignore the blocks of short films, however. “It was such a competitive year in terms of short films. The short film blocks are really incredible.”
Regardless of what you watch, Cohan says, you’ll get a rewarding experience. “This is sort of like Netflix, except curated by people here in Pittsburgh that love film and want to share it with other folks from this region.”

Films can be streamed at the festival website beginning Wednesday. Virtual tickets can be purchased for each film; festival passes, which grant access to the full lineup, are also available.
Takeout and Delivery Restaurant Directory
We have compiled a list of restaurants in the city that are still in operation
and serving takeout or delivery options.

More Than Just Downtown:
Weekly Roundup
Good Food Pittsburgh is a Pittsburgh-based news site that covers all of the latest restaurant and food news.

This week: Restaurants With Outdoor Heaters, Black Owned Businesses and More!
Virtual Events
Many events throughout the region have been planned for or moved to an online platform due to COVID-19. We have compiled these Pittsburgh based virtual events so that you can find them here:
*Photography and media sourced from 3rd party sites in no way implies support or affiliation with the Downtown Community Development Corporation, or any partners.

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