November 1, 2011 |

Beneficial Building in South Side earns Commonwealth Award

Six development projects that are revitalizing Pittsburgh communities, spurring economic development, catalyzing private investment, and serving as models of sustainable development received Commonwealth Awards at 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania's recent annual awards event.

10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, the state's leading Smart Growth advocacy organization, honored these six projects in the region, as well as 16 others from across the state, with its annual awards this year.

In the South Pittsburgh area, The Beneficial Building received a Commonwealth Award in the Mixed Use Development (small projects) category. Over the years, neglect and inappropriate renovation decisions destroyed or impaired many historic and architectural details.

The second story of the building sat vacant for years at a time. But in 2004, South Side Local Development Company secured an option to purchase the building for $500,000. After TREK Development Group was selected to partner on the project, and a joint public/private partnership was established. Restoration began in 2005 and occupancy of the retail, residential and office components began in 2008. Final occupancy of the last tenant space occurred in 2010.

"This is a true mixed use building—renovated to create lab space, two retail storefronts (restaurants), office space, and six affordable apartments leased to City Theatre for performing artists," the jury said. "The project has helped catalyze additional private investment in the area and adjacent projects have now been completed without subordinate financing or a public subsidy."

The Commonwealth Awards is a juried statewide program honoring Smart Growth projects from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 10,000 Friends invited submissions from companies and organizations that produced a wide range of project types—urban infill, historic preservation and rehabilitation, adaptive reuse, Brownfield redevelopment, traditional neighborhood development, farmland preservation, and revitalization plans.

@Smart Growth strategies build suburban, urban, and rural communities that have more transportation options; have more housing and recreational choices; are closer to job opportunities, shops, and schools; support the local economy; are more energy efficient and independent; and help protect green space, clean air, and clean water.

"The Commonwealth Awards honor outstanding examples of smart growth projects here in Pennsylvania," said Jack Machek, president and CEO of 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania. "We received a record number of submissions this year, and it's very encouraging to see so many smart growth projects succeeding as many sectors of the construction industry are struggling to rebound. 10,000 Friends is proud to showcase the companies and organizations working to build stronger towns and communities across the state."

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