Grants to boost renewal projects in Pittsburgh

Small awards go to neighborhoods

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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Design Center of Pittsburgh today will award $275,000 in grants for 12 "neighborhood renaissance" projects, including a proposal to make Colteryahn Dairy in Carrick the center of a destination "dairy district."

Ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, the inaugural grants from the new Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund will go to groups in the city's northern, southern and western neighborhoods. The $50,000 grant will be awarded to Economic Development South, an inter-municipal development group, for a study of the dairy tourism initiative.

The city Urban Redevelopment Authority provided $300,000 for the fund, and the Design Center, a Downtown nonprofit, raised another $300,000. Additional rounds of grants are planned.

"This is all about creating more growth in more Pittsburgh neighborhoods," mayoral spokeswoman Joanna Doven said. An awards ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the West End offices of Pittsburgh Musical Theater, which will receive a $15,000 grant for facade improvements and other building work.

The Design Center already administers a Design Fund, which provides grants to community organizations in Allegheny County and technical assistance to architects and other design professionals.

The new fund was created to push what Mr. Ravenstahl calls the city's Third Renaissance into neighborhoods that haven't yet experienced the kinds of development that have benefited Downtown and East Liberty in recent years. The grants target neighborhoods that need not only a development boost but help with planning.

Representatives of Colteryahn's and Economic Development South could not be reached Monday. Chris Koch, director of programs for the Design Center, said dairy owners want to explore the possibility of increasing tourism at the Brownsville Road site and converting nearby storefronts they own into an ice cream shop, market and restaurant.

"They want to make the investment. They just don't know where to get started," Ms. Koch said.

The second-biggest grant, $35,000, will go to the Hilltop Alliance -- which serves neighborhoods overlooking South Side, for a "multi-year neighborhood housing strategy plan" to address blight and mortgage foreclosure. Grants of $25,000 will go to Community Alliance of Spring Garden-East Deutschtown for a neighborhood gateway at Route 28 and the 16th Street Bridge; to Point Breeze North Development Corp. to study improvements to Simonton Street; to South Pittsburgh Development Corp. for a study on how to market and brand Brookline Boulevard; and to the West End Alliance for a study on how to reuse four closed school buildings and boost the neighborhoods around them.

Ernie Sciulli, alliance vice president and development chairman, said civic leaders are concerned about what's to become of the one parochial and three public school buildings in Crafton Heights, Elliott and Sheraden. He said one, closed for four or five years, already is showing signs of deterioration.

The Polish Hill Civic Association will receive $20,000 to study the use of two vacant lots and four fire-damaged houses, while grants of $15,000 will go to Central Northside Neighborhood Council for advancing its Allegheny City Central branding plan; to Troy Hill Citizens for implementation of park-related projects; and to Beltzhoover Civic Association for converting a former trolley turnaround into a garden. Association member Raymont Conner said the garden is an effort "to bring life back into our neighborhood."

Focus on Renewal and the Ujamaa Collective will receive $10,000 to promote Centre Avenue development in the Hill District.

neigh_city - electionsmunicipal

Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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