The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund has awarded a total of $275,000 in community development grants to 12 neighborhoods in the North Side, West End and South Hills. The overall goal is to jumpstart development in communities that have experienced a long decline, but have not gotten improvement funds and resources like other areas of the city have received.
“We’ve had wonderful renaissances that have repurposed and reinvented the city over the last 40 years, but we’re currently in a place where we still have a lot of transitional and edge communities that need resources, need further development and need capacity building in order to engage citizenry and to make people feel their neighborhoods are improving and on the upswing,” said Stephen Glassman, CEO of Community Design Center, which will manage the grants.
The largest chunk is going to Economic Development South, a community development corporation that works in Carrick, Overbrook, Baldwin, Brentwood, and Whitehall. They have received $50,000 to work with Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick on a long-term neighborhood improvement plan along Brownsville Road.
“We want to look at how we can make this sort of a destination area with supporting restaurants and things like that, we call it the 'Dairy District' concept, to make it a more notable node along that corridor,” said Greg Jones, Economic Development South executive director.
The other recipients are:
- $25,000 to West End Alliance for an adaptive reuse study for a closed and vacant school
- $15,000 to Pittsburgh Musical Theater for implementation of façade improvements and expansion at its West End location
- $15,000 to Central Northside Neighborhood Council for sign and gateway design for its Allegheny City Central branding plan
- $15,000 to Troy Hill Citizens for implementation of their park plan and programming
- $25,000 to Community Alliance of Spring Garden-East Deutschtown for gateway design at the Route 28 exit at the 16th Street Bridge
- $25,000 to Brookline SPDC for a market study and branding for Brookline Boulevard
- $15,000 to Beltzhoover Civic Association for parklet design/build project on a historic streetcar turnaround site
- $35,000 to Hilltop Alliance for multi-year neighborhood housing strategy plan for blight and foreclosure mitigation in the south Hilltop communities
- $18,725 to Polish Hill Civic Association for mixed use plan for Brereton-Dobson site of two vacant lots and four deteriorating, fire-damaged houses
- $10,000 to Focus on Renewal/Ujamaa Collective for project facilitation and workshops for Centre Avenue development in the Hill District
- $25,000 to Point Breeze North Development Corporation for Simonton Street study for infill housing and corridor design
Some 28 organizations applied for this first round of improvement grants, and there are more than 130 additional projects to be considered in future rounds.
The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund initiative was created by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and funded by the URA in April 2012 with an initial start-up grant of $300,000.
The Design Center raised matching funds through local foundations and other funding sources. Ravenstahl said strong community development plans better position communities to attract public and private investment, these funds will help spur the plans, he added, “small grants will go a long way.”