Construction began Friday morning on Braddock Civic Plaza, a community space to be located on the former site of UPMC Braddock Hospital, which closed in 2010.
The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by residents and several individuals who helped bring funding to the site, including Dennis Davin of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Tina Doose, President of Braddock Borough Council, said the idea of the plaza was a collaborative effort between Braddock residents and developers.
"We decided as a community that this was going to be a space that everyone could use," she said.
The plaza will feature almost 7 acres of green park space, and a special area for food trucks. Construction on the space is expected to end in spring or summer of next year.
Davin said construction on the plaza would not have been possible without the support of local residents.
"Support for something like this has to come from the local level, and the locals really have to want to see things done," he said. "And [Braddock residents] have done it in a tremendous, tremendous way."
Braddock was hit hard by the collapse of the steel industry, with its population falling to about 2,000 residents with an average median income of about $24,000 per year.
Doose told the community that the groundbreaking signals a new era of vitality for the borough.
"The past is gone," she said. "But this is a new beginning for Braddock."