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Are Iron City Lofts in our future?

Written by Diana Nelson Jones on .

 Though I wrote for tomorrow's paper that this is Iron City's last day in Pittsburgh, it's not really true. Tomorrow, the next day, the next, etc., you can find Iron City at your local beer distributor, which is where you really want it... if you want Iron City.

My two favorite drinks are water and beer, but I like them in separate glasses. Yet Iron City is an icon, and when I was at a Steelers bar in Tulsa for the Steelers-Broncos playoff game in January 2006, I tipped back Ahrns. It just seemed right.

The Pittsburgh Brewing Co. ceased operations today and has already begun operations at the former Latrobe Brewing Co., which is going to turn out 1 million barrels a year, compared to the 170,000 barrels the plant in Lawrenceville has turned out each year.

In today's paper, my colleague Bill Toland wrote that Ahrn is the unofficial beer of the Pittsburgh Diaspora, an unofficial fact the company is hoping to bank on as it pumps up its marketing department from the measley $1.5 million it has spent every year while being strapped in a gigundous 9-acre campus that looks as if a Victorian-era community college was left to vandals years ago.

The Iron City property is a funky place that was perfect for the Pittsburgh Blues Festival the few years it sampled the site, far better than Hartwood Acres, where I expect singers in hippie skirts and fiddlers. But I digress...

I'm sad about Iron City's move to Latrobe because the city will get $100,000 less in property taxes a year and 51 workers are losing their jobs. The scenario is too much like the reasons for the Pittsburgh Diaspora.

It's good that a company wants to keep a Pittsburgh brand alive, even if it's not in Pittsburgh anymore. The next step is to anticipate what the Iron City campus might be someday.

"THIS IS CITY LIVING" say the wheel-less trailers parked in the rubbly lot surrounded by 468,000 square feet of outmoded factory space.

Tim Hickman, CEO and president of Iron City, said today that he has talked to people who are interested in developing the properties to be residential. Whenever I hear about new lofts and condos, I always wonder how much housing we can fill without population growth.

I also wonder when 100 jobs will come in to replace every 51 lost and whether the errant members of our Nation - living in fake cities such as Phoenix and Charlotte - will ever return.

It's a burden wondering about so many heavy topics... but it's five o'clock somewhere.

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