November 20, 2012 | Vol. 73 No. 17

Hilltop organizations receive Renaisance Fund awards

The first round of Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund (NRF) grants included projects slated for South Pittsburgh Hilltop neighborhoods.

Almost $275,000 was awarded to a dozen community organizations, including three on the Hilltop for their projects. The awards will provide resources to create and carry out development vision plans for their communities, helping to ensure growth and success.

“Neighborhoods that have successful community development plans are better positioned to attract investment, which then spurs job creation and economic development,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. “This program will help ensure that Pittsburgh’s Third Renaissance is felt in all of Pittsburgh’s 90 neighborhoods.”

The goal of the NRF is to assist targeted communities in creating neighborhood development plans and giving neighborhood organizations the ex pertise and guidance needed throughout the process, while steering them on a clear path toward pursuing real extate development projects and other strategic initiatives.

The NRF is administered by the Design Center through its signature Design Fund program, which awards competitive grants to community organizations and provides technical assistance to work with architects, planners, landscape architects, and other design professionals toward neighborhood revitalization projects.

The fund is a collaboration between the Department of City Planning, the City’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and the Design Center.

“We are delighted to be expanding the family of community groups we serve through the Design Fund, which supports catalytic projects in a number of neighborhoods that have suffered in recent years from blight, vacancy and deteriorating business districts,” said Stephen A. Glassman, Design Center president and CEO.

Grants were submitted by 28 organizations following a series of informational meetings held throughout the city, which uncovered more than 130 potential development projects for future consideration.

In South Pittsburgh, the projects receiving funding were:

Economic Development South (EDS) received $50,000 for a plan to create a destination “dairy district” on Brownsville Road in Carrick. The Dairy District project is a joint initiative between EDS, Carrick Community Council (CCC) and the Colteryahn Dairy management team to revitalize a key commercial node along Brownsville Road that includes the Colteryahn factory and several key adjacent properties.

The grant supplements $25,000 Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak and the CCC have already committed to the project. The architectural planning process will identify opportunities to renovate storefronts, create public space and address pedestrian acess and parking in the area, while creating a brand that is intended to spur investment and new business based around the existing dairy.

The Hilltop Alliance received $35,000 for a multi-year neighborhood housing strategy plan for blight and foreclosure mitigation in the south Hilltop communities. The award will allow the Alliance to start an in-depth housing study to understand preservation, stabilization and development initiatives in two neighborhoods: Allentown and Beltzhoover.

After the completion of the first two neighborhoods, the study will likely be continued in other Hilltop neighborhoods. The Hilltop Housing Strategy and Plan will set the stage for a multi-year housing strategy in the Hilltop neighborhoods.

Beltzhoover Civic Association received $15,000 for parklet design/build project at Louis A. Venson Community Park, a historic streetcar turnaround site. The project is a community beautification project to help promote unity and pride in Beltzhoover and embrace the historical significance of the streetcar rail which is still visible.

The grant provides funding for design and implementation of the parklet at Chalfont Street and Gearing Avenue.

The other funded applicants and their projects are:

West End Alliance, $25,000 for an adaptive reuse study for a closed and vacant school;

Brookline SPDC, $25,000 for a market study and branding for Brookline Boulevard;

Pittsburgh Musical Theater, $15,000 for implementation of façade improvements and expansion at its West End location;

Central Northside Neighborhood Council, $15,000 for sign and gateway design for its Allegheny City Central branding plan;

Troy Hill Citizens, $15,000 for implementation of their park plan and programming;

Community Alliance of Spring Garden-East Deutschtown, $25,000 for gateway design at the Route 28 exit at the 16th Street Bridge;

Polish Hill Civic Association, $18,725 for mixed use plan for Brereton-Dobson site of two vacant lots and four deteriorating, fire-damaged houses;

Focus on Renewal/Ujamaa Collective, $10,000 for project facilitation and workshops for Centre Avenue development in the Hill District; and,

Point Breeze North Development Corporation for Simonton Street, $25,000 study for infill housing and corridor design.

The Pittsburgh Neighborhood Renaissance Fund initiative was created by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and established by the URA in April 2012 with an initial start-up grant of $300,000. The Design Center has raised matching funds through local foundations and other funding sources.

To date, matching funds contributions have been committed by the Buhl Foundation, the Birmingham Foundation, Bridgeway Capital, and CDBG grants from City Council members Natalia Rudiak and Theresa Kail-Smith.

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