Program will renovate facades of homes in Beltzhoover near McKinley
May 8, 2018
Looking for synergy with nearby improvements to upper McKinley Park, the Hilltop Alliance (HA) has partnered with Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) to restore the facades of 12 nearby houses.
Officials from the organizations joined Mayor William Peduto, State Rep. Jake Wheatley, and funding partners from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency and the 1772 Foundation in making the announcement.
Community planning, including a housing strategy completed in 2013, identified threats to existing homes. The strategy spurred the acquisition of vacant and abandoned homes to renovate, led by the City of Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority, Aaron Sukenik, executive director of the HA said.
Additionally, he said there have been grant programs for homeowners to stabilize properties and ensure housing security for long-time owners, mostly through the Alliance.
Jennifer Cash Wade, from the Beltzhoover Consensus Group (BCG), noted McKinley Park and Beltzhoover School were jewels of the neighborhood and responsible for strong minds and strong bodies. Strong, multi-generational families contributed to the sense of community and pride in their homes.
"Today, we're here to celebrate small first steps in Beltzhoover's return to greatness," Ms. Cash Wade said. "McKinley Park was already undergoing restorative work under the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, renovating the exteriors of the homes bordering the park was a logical progression."
The program is funded through two $50,000 grants: one from the PFHA and another from the 1772 Foundation through the PHLF. The 1772 Foundation is a national organization, based in Providence, RI, that supports historic preservation across the country.
Larry Harris, another member of the BCG, said it was important to have transparency in the work being done in Beltzhoover, "to make sure things are going in the direction we want them to." Another important aspect of the project was the 100 percent use of local contractors Go Supreme and South Hills Men's Group in the first phase of façade renovations.
"I love this it, you know why, it comes from the ground up," Mayor Peduto said. "It's the priorities a community creates that are the ones that are the most sustainable."
He said the project is unique in the city and was a result of the community wanting to preserve the homes in its neighborhood.
"So as this park is becoming more sustainable, more resilient and more beautiful, the neighborhood around it starts to as well and we create a program that we extend to the next block and the next block and the next block," Mayor Peduto said.
The first six façade restorations to homes around McKinley Park on Eldora, Michigan and Delmont streets will begin in May. Work for the first phase is funded through the PHFA.
The second round of façade improvements will be funded through the $50,000 1772 Foundation grant and will include six houses on adjacent streets.