A $150,000 grant for development planning along the LRT line in four southern neighborhoods, the result of a collaborative effort spurred by state Rep. Chelsa Wagner, has been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
"The southern neighborhoods have our region's only light rail system running through the heart of our business districts, but we've been ignored when it comes to development initiatives. This grant will hopefully reverse that trend," Rep. Wagner, a member of the House Transportation Committee, said. "And I'm really pleased to have been a part of this because the process of applying for and receiving this grant was a true exercise in cooperation and vision among leaders in these communities."
Approximately 50,000 commuters pass through South Hills Junction daily, with around 10,000 passing through Beechview.
Community organizations collaborating on the grant were Allentown Community Development Corp. (ACDC), Beltzhoover Neighborhood Council (BNC), Community Leaders United for Beechview (CLUB), and Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation (MWC-DC).
"What's old is new again," said Phyllis DiDiano, CLUB President. "Beechview developed as a pedestrian friendly neighborhood with convenient access to public transit, and we are preparing now to utilize those amenities once again to bring our neighborhood back."
Genie Beckom, President of BNC commented, "Beltzhoover is energized by the economic development opportunities for our community. The collaborative effort between the neighborhoods has been great and now we're excited to get to work."
Matched by grants of $25,000 from City Councilman Jim Motznik and Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, this planning grant from the Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) initiative will support a market analysis, a survey of capital needs, residential and commercial development efforts, financial planning, coordination between neighborhood groups and government agencies, and in facilitating community input.
Rep. Wagner's office will also contribute an additional $22,700 grant to the effort, for a total of $222,700 in funding now fully secured.
"We are engaged in numerous planning and development efforts that will be helped by the TRID plan, and collaborating with our neighbors will make all of us on the Southern side of the city stronger," said Chris Beichner, Executive Director of MWCDC.
"It's wonderful to see these communities working together," said Judy Haekel, ACDC President. "This is the way of the future."
The Department of City Planning served as the conduit for the grant application, with additional assistance provided by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Port Authority, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, City Councilman Bruce Kraus, and transportation consultant Lynn Colosi of Clearview Strategies.
"Thanks and congratulations are in order to all of those involved in this effort," Rep. Wagner said. "With green development emphasizing transit occurring all around the country, South Pittsburgh is now definitely on the map."