Bid for vitality: Lawrenceville should take the next step forward
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Not very long ago, the city neighborhood of Lawrenceville was a subdued community of solid, narrow houses and long-established small businesses. It was quiet and safe, but a little outdated.
Lawrenceville now is one of the hottest parts of Pittsburgh, attracting students and young professionals -- drawn by affordable rental units and starter homes -- as well as a vibrant collection of new stores, bars and restaurants.
Lawrenceville Corp., a community development nonprofit, wants the neighborhood to take the next step forward by establishing a business improvement district. If revenue-producing property owners agree to it, the legal designation would create a body that could collect a special fee from businesses to pay for sidewalk snow and litter removal, flower and tree maintenance and marketing.
The nonprofit corporation already has been supporting amenities of that nature by collecting dues from 143 members, but it is looking for a more predictable funding source to improve and maintain the proposed district. It would include Butler Street from 34th through 57th streets and Penn Avenue from 40th to 45 streets.
As envisioned by Lawrenceville Corp., the rate for the fees would be based on the width of a storefront, likely to be $10 per linear foot. The district would be governed by a council of property and business owners.
Business improvement districts already are in place Downtown and in Oakland. The formation of such an entity seems appropriate for Lawrenceville, unlike a broader neighborhood improvement district, which recently was rejected for the South Side and which would have covered homeowners as well as businesses.
Pittsburgh Councilman Patrick Dowd introduced legislation proposing the district this week and, after more than 400 business property owners are notified, a public hearing will be scheduled. If council makes the designation, then the owners will vote on it.
Becoming a business improvement district seems like a fair way for Lawrenceville to build on the improvements that already make it a popular place to be.
First Published September 7, 2012 12:00 am