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Lawrenceville United Statement on the Milhaus Lease with Starbucks

Lawrenceville United is extremely disappointed to learn that Milhaus has leased a Starbucks at Arsenal 201. 

Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation hosted many community meetings with Milhaus and hundreds of neighbors before both phases of Arsenal 201. Keeping the local identity of our business district was a top priority articulated by community members, and Milhaus repeatedly stressed their intention of supporting this goal. In their own words, “The plan is to incorporate what makes Lawrenceville. Milhaus plans to speak with local entrepreneurs and restaurateurs to maintain the local feel of businesses in the Lawrenceville area” and “the project team plans on courting local retail and restaurant options and not big box or national chains.” 

As a neighborhood, Lawrenceville takes pride in our abundance of locally-owned businesses (72%!) along Butler St and Penn Ave, including many wonderful local coffee shops, like Lawrenceville mainstay Espresso a Mano, which has been holding it down in Lawrenceville since 2009. Small businesses have not only shaped the identity of our bustling business district, but they provide material benefits to our community: according to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, independent retailers keep much more of our money locally by spending a larger share on paying workers, providing charity locally, procuring goods from other local businesses, and not funneling profits to faraway investors and CEOs. 

Leasing to a mega-chain like Starbucks, with a well-documented history of exploiting workers and hostility to amazing unions like Pittsburgh Starbucks Workers United, is a direct violation of Milhaus’ words and commitments, and an insult to the hundreds of neighbors who participated in our community process. Lawrenceville United is a resident advocacy organization focused on improving quality of life for Lawrenceville residents, and while we have no control over who Milhaus leases to, we’re committed to doing everything in our power to hold developers accountable to the promises they make to our community. We know that what made Lawrenceville great yesterday is the same thing that will make Lawrenceville great tomorrow: our neighbors, our local businesses, and our workers — not developers like Milhaus and not mega-chains like Starbucks. 

We encourage community members to: 

  • Continue supporting one of our many fantastic independent cafes in Lawrenceville 
  • Make a donation to our neighbors at Pittsburgh Starbucks Workers United fighting for dignified jobs
  • Give Milhaus a call to let them know how you feel at (317) 226-9500.

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