Arts Profile: Patty Burk

July 17, 2009

This week, we spoke to Patty Burk, the Vice President of Housing and Economic Development at the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP). She’s been with the PDP since 2001, and is responsible for the coordination of the Downtown Living Initiative in addition to being an avid theatergoer and supporter of the arts. She first became involved with the PDP as part of an initiative to focus more on the housing market downtown. Previously, she worked in site acquisitions and development, and lived in Columbus, Ohio.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, it is responsible for a lot of the great development in the “Golden Triangle” (bounded by the two rivers and I-579). Their incentive is, as Patty put it “making downtown a better place to live, work and play.” Most of their initiatives center on keeping downtown clean and safe, as well as keeping the office market vibrant and revitalizing Pittsburgh’s downtown treasures, such as Market Square. In 1997, the PDP created a Business Improvement District, which allows property owners to put money towards the general marketing and upkeep of the area.

Patty has become is a huge proponent of downtown housing, and puts her money where her mouth is, as she’s lived there for two years. Her favorite things about it are the lack of a commute to work, and the opportunities it allows for her and her four year old son, who she walks to school. As she put it, “you are close to all the action, you can just walk out your door and eat or go to the theater.” She’s also a big fan of cultural landmarks like Katz Plaza.

The PDP also has done extensive work with the local arts community- especially with Filmmakers. The Harris theater, located in the heart of downtown is what they consider a resident amenity, and they co-sponsor films at the theater every few months. Also, they routinely sponsor a gallery for the fall gallery crawl. As if that wasn’t enough, Brian Holderman, a local artist, did some amazing sidewalk paintings for them as part of their Downtown Living Exposed campaign. Each painting highlighted some of the unique characteristics of downtown living, and was created outside various residential buildings in the Golden Triangle.

Brian Holderman creates sidewalk art.

Brian Holderman creates sidewalk art.

But back to Patty. When we asked her about some of her favorite things about downtown, she spoke about the great urban view of “wrought iron and brick buildings” that she has from her apartment balcony. She also talked up kayaking on the Pittsburgh rivers with her son, playing in the fountains and being able to walk to the grocery store and the farmers market, and last but most certainly not least, heading down to Market Square to sit in the park and get work done. Sounds like a pretty convincing ad for downtown living to me.

She also enjoys seeing movies at the Harris, having recently joined a group of fellow downtowners to see Anvil! Primarily, she goes to the movies to be entertained, and is looking forward to seeing O’Horten and Objectified later this summer. A little different than her all time favorite of Groundhog Day, but whatever works.

Currently, Patty is working on a resident newsletter/blog for downtown residents called “Vertical Life,” which should be getting started in August. Since it plans to include reviews for the Harris, you can bet we’ll be reading it! Also, possible upcoming projects include an no leash dog park and new exciting programming for Market Square. For more information on about the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, you can visit their website at http://www.downtownpittsburgh.com/, follow them on twitter at DowntownPitt or check them out on Facebook. Oh, the wonders of modern social networking.


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