Mention “Mount Washington” to longtime Pittsburgh residents, newcomers and visitors and the comment you’re likely to get is “the view.” Not the view of Mount Washington, but rather the view from Mount Washington.
Business owners there would like you to turn your back on the view of downtown and the Point … after you’re done gazing of course … and take a look at what that community has to offer.
“We are blessed with having one of the greatest views in the world on Grandview Avenue,” said Jason Kambitsis, executive director of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC), “and it’s also a potential curse because people don’t know there is a community back there full of great businesses and housing. So people do come up and they look towards the city, and they get on the incline and go back down.”
Every year 1.5 million people ride the inclines to take in the views of Pittsburgh and many of the visitors make the return trip without patronizing local businesses. So the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation Wednesday unveiled a new development initiative to attract tourists to the neighborhood, particularly the Shiloh Street business district. The marketing effort includes signage, a business directory and filling retail vacancies.
“(We’re using) 90 degree perpendicular signs off the buildings,” Kambitsis said. “We use signage to bring people down the business district and explore those businesses.”
That includes everything from a diner to a bakery to a jewelry store.
The MWCDC also have created a new map with every business in the community listed and in September will launch an iPhone app.
The organization received a $25,000 grant from the PNC Foundation in partnership with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development to support the marketing effort.
Stephanie Cipriani, senior vice president at PNC, grew up in Mount Washington and said helping to bolster the business district is important.
“It creates jobs which allow people to buy housing," she said. "For PNC, we’re only as strong as our communities.”
Kambitsis said to measure the effectiveness of the marketing strategy, they created a baseline of pedestrian traffic in the business district in May.
“And after the signage and new maps are up, we are actually going to have a pedestrian study done again at the end of August to see have we made an impact, how many people are doing it and how can we improve on it,” he said.