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Neighborhood Allies names inaugural president

Presley L. Gillespie has been hired as the first president of Neighborhood Allies, a community development organization that focuses on incorporating people-based and place-based strategies into its work.
 
Neighborhood Allies, whose predecessor organization was the Pittsburgh Partnership for Neighborhood Development, launched in 2013 with the purpose of including 21st century community development approaches.
 
The organization is known as an intermediary funder to help neighborhoods in distress and addresses local issues like blighted buildings and homelessness. Innovative, resident-driven development strategies have worked extremely well in other Great Lakes cities such as Detroit, Cleveland and Youngstown, and Gillespie has been at the forefront of this work for the last five years.
 
Gillespie was most recently the founding executive director of the Youngstown Community Development Corporation, the first city-wide community development corporation in Youngstown, Ohio.
 
In addition to Gillespie’s nonprofit work, he has experience in private sector banking. Prior to his work with YNDC, he had a successful 18-year banking career, primarily focused on community development lending and revitalization.
 
“Throughout my 23-year career, I have been deeply engaged in mobilizing capital and engaging residents to transform under-served neighborhoods," Gillespie says. "My experience as a community development leader in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors has led to a life-long commitment and passion to improving the quality of life of people affected by blight and disinvestment."
 
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto was enthusiastic about the selection of Gillespie and the experience he brings to his new position.
 
“He has a proven track record of scaling up community development work and bringing millions in federal resources to local communities," Peduto says. "I am so pleased that Neighborhood Allies was able to attract a leader of his caliber to Pittsburgh to help us work collaboratively to rebuild our communities most in need.”
 
Gillespie added that he is excited to take the helm at Neighborhood Allies as its objectives go hand-in-hand with his personal and professional goals of local development. “First and foremost, I deeply believe in their mission,” he says.
 
In addition to his enthusiasm for the organization, Gillespie says he has “long admired Pittsburgh” as a post-industrial city that continues to flourish.
 
“Pittsburgh is a great city,” he says. “With a strong urban core and diverse and historic neighborhoods, it is poised for significant, continued growth.”
 
While Gillespie has plans to re-imagine, re-invent and re-tool the system with new cross-sector, strategic partnerships meant to foster the transformation of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods, he says he knows that the beginning of his term will be met with a lot of listening and learning.
 
Gillespie will begin his term as president mid-May. With his wife Nora and two children, he will be relocating to Pittsburgh this spring. He said the family is excited to call Pittsburgh home and take advantage of what the city has to offer.
 
“I look forward to visiting its world-class theaters, botanical gardens, green trails and sports venues,” he says. “The quality of life amenities in Pittsburgh are second to none.”

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Neighborhood Allies, Presley L. Gillespie

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership celebrates 20 years by planning for the future

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership hosted their 20th Anniversary Annual Meeting April 1, touting the development of Downtown and their ongoing neighborhood projects.
 
Governor Tom Corbett provided opening remarks at the event, held downtown at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, about the investments the state has made in Downtown and how these ventures have positioned Downtown Pittsburgh to be a competitive central business district.
 
“Pittsburgh continues to see renaissances; evolving, growing and becoming a model for other cities,” Corbett said.  
 
Mayor William Peduto provided the keynote presentation, speaking about his vision for the future of Downtown Pittsburgh. His remarks focused on several areas: the revitalization of the Smithfield Street Corridor, his commitment to attract 20,000 new residents to Pittsburgh and the importance of a multi-modal transit system serving the city. The mayor announced plans to create the city’s first protected bike lane later this year and news of Bike Share coming soon to Downtown.
 
In celebration of the PDP’s 20th anniversary, a weeklong series of events are being planned for the week of July 15 through July 21. This celebration will include special editions of some of the PDP’s most popular summer activities, like Christmas in July at the Market Square Farmers Market. There will also be outdoor activities including a member’s day at PNC Park, a Project Pop Up Fashion Market highlighting the local retail scene and a partnership with national fitness-wear retailer Lululemon Athletica offering free outdoor yoga classes for 13 weeks in Market Square on Sundays throughout the summer. The PDP will also produce a series of public film screenings in collaboration with the Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
 
The annual report also highlighted many PDP programs and services. The PDP Clean Team provided 32,816 labor hours, including the removal of 1.291 million pounds of trash and 3,080 instances of graffiti; the PDP Street Team addressed 320 panhandling incidents, nearly doubling the number of homeless outreach contacts over the previous year with 1,286 occurrences; and, the PDP Volunteer Program welcomed 1,842 volunteers who performed 6,005 volunteer hours.  

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
 

Bloomfield Saturday Market will launch next month with local product and handmade crafts

The Bloomfield Development Corporation will launch The Bloomfield Saturday market next month. The fresh event will boast local produce, handcrafted products and entertainment geared towards a regional audience.

The market, set to launch May 31, will be held every Saturday until November from 8AM to 1PM at 5050 Liberty Avenue, which is a parking lot owned by West Penn Hospital. 

"The Bloomfield Saturday Market will be a great event, while also providing residents with the opportunity to purchase good, healthy food," said BDC board chairperson Joey Vallarian. "Community health, both the health of the brick and mortar neighborhood as well as the health of its residents, is very important to the BDC, and we think the Bloomfield Saturday Market will help accomplish these goals."
 
Christina Howell, BDC program manager, called the market “eclectic and lively” with vendors who create and package their own food — teas, olive oils, baked goods — in addition to standard farmers market fare. There will also be jewelers and artists selling handmade goods.
 
The market will also feature music and dance performances, health screenings, nutrition information, cooking demonstrations and healthy recipes that can be made from the week’s featured food items. Howell noted that she is also working on a program where teens can harvest urban farms and then sell their fruits at the market.
 
Howell said she hopes to foster a community atmosphere where market-goers can sit and stay awhile. She added that the focus on health, nutrition and access to local produce aid in a healthier Bloomfield.
 
The BDC is currently accepting applications from farmers and vendors for the Saturday Market. Interested vendors should visit www.bloomfieldsaturdaymarket.org or contact Howell at christina@bloomfieldnow.com or 412-708-1277. 

Writer: Caroline Gerdes
Source: Bloomfield Development Corporation, Christina Howell
 

Eat + Drink: A barleywine festival, a writer in the kitchen, mac & cheese fallout and more

‘Hell with the Lid Off’ celebrates 10 years at Kelly’s
Kelly’s Bar and Lounge will host its 10th annual Hell with the Lid Off Barleywine Festival on Saturday, March 8, with sessions running from 1 to 4 p.m. and 5 to 8 pm.

Hell with the Lid Off offers participants the chance to taste more than 100 different barleywines, about 35 of which will be available on draft.

“From what we understand, it’s the only festival of its kind in the country and it’s here in Pittsburgh,” says Kelly’s General Manager Deirdre Kane. “We have barleywines dating back to 2004 and some from breweries which are no longer in production. It’s some really rare stuff.”

Tickets for Hell with the Lid Off are $75 and available both at Kelly’s (located at 6012 Penn Circle South) and through Showclix.

Hal Klein: Journalist, Cook, Renaissance man
“I kind of came of age in California and I miss eating really good Mexican food,” says local food writer Hal Klein. “A lot of people think that Mexican food is really just tacos and burritos, but it goes way beyond that.”

Klein will trade his pen for an apron next week when he hosts Bar Marco’s March 10 edition of No Menu Monday. Though he’s done it twice before, Klein says he expects this go to be something of a departure from his prior outings.

“The first one was a challenge because I’d never cooked in a restaurant kitchen and I’d never cooked for that many people before. The second time, I felt like I was really in the zone and knew what I was doing. This time, I’m cooking things on a much bigger scale,” Klein says. “It’ll be a challenge, but it will be pretty cool.”

Among his offerings, the self-taught cook is planning two soups, carnitas, refried beans, pickled vegetable and stuffed poblano peppers.

“I think culinary school is a really good thing, but I think a lot of chefs will tell you that the best education that they got was working in kitchens with other chefs,” Klein says. “Be organized, take a deep breath, have good help.”

Mac & Cheese Now! Redux
Eat + Drink’s glance last week at the Pittsburgh macaroni and cheese scene caused something of a stir on the old Internet.

E-mails and tweets poured in with omitted gems, including offerings from Salt of the Earth, Winghart’s, Union Pig & Chicken, Tartine and Blowfish BBQ.

Pittsburgh mainstay Kelly’s and the upstart Independent Brewing Company nearly came to blows via Twitter over the question of mac supremacy, but cooler heads prevailed.

Sewickley Soup Crawl
The third annual Sewickley Soup Crawl will take place on Saturday, March 15 from noon to 3 p.m. in Sewickley Village. This year’s special guest will be actor Larry Thomas, best known for his portrayal of The Soup Nazi in the 1995 Seinfeld episode of the same name.

For more information, visit the Soup Crawl’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Deirdre Durant, Hal Klein

Local grocer bringing market to the Mexican War Streets

The space at 1327 Arch Street in the Mexican War Streets has been a corner grocery store since the building first went up in 1895. Most recently, it spent 18 years as Doug’s Market before owner Doug Nimmo closed up shop in December.

Now, another local grocer has emerged to revive the market and keep the tradition going.

Rob Collins, a Manchester resident who owns the Bryant Street Market in Highland Park, is refinishing the space and will open as the Allegheny City Market later this month.

“We’ll have a whole mix of conventional, organic, natural and gluten-free products,” Collins says. “We’ll have fresh bread delivered every day, and anything local that we sell over at Bryant Street we’ll add here, like eggs, chocolate and dairy.”
The store will also offer a small variety of prepared food, including sandwiches made on site. According to Collins, the sandwiches are among his other market’s most popular items.

War Streets residents are eager for a new local grocery, especially if it’s able to cater to the whole of the community, which has seen the wealth gap amongst its residents grow over the last 10 years.

“There’s still an extreme wealth spectrum in this neighborhood,” says Brian McGuirk, who with his wife, Caitlin, bought a home in the War Streets last year. “I think it would be good if it could serve both ends of the community. It’s exciting to see something like that come in. If we could get by supporting a local place, we’d definitely do that.”

That’s exactly what Collins intends to do.

“Like I tell everybody over at Bryant Street, we’ll have everything you need to survive except booze,” he says.

Collins is aiming to open the Allegheny City Market on March 22.


Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Rob Collins, Brian McGuirk

52nd Street Market will open Saturday

The 52nd Street Market, a joint effort of Deirdre Kane and Dora Walmsley to bring a locally sourced corner grocery store to Lawrenceville, will open its doors on Saturday.

Located at 601 52nd Street in the space which years ago housed the Bloomfield Market, the 800-square-foot store will bring fresh, organic produce and other locally produced items to Lawrenceville. Its owners hope it will become hub in the community.

“Right in the very beginning, we’re just going to be a grocer,” says Kane, who first met Walmsley while volunteering in Lawrenceville’s community gardens. “We won’t be selling made-to-order sandwiches or coffee just yet, but we’ll have some pre-packaged items.”

Kane says she hopes the market will have its coffee and on-site kitchen services functioning for customers within the next month. The market passed its health inspection on Monday and will get its first inventory tomorrow. Much of its produce will come from Saxonburg-based Frankferd Farms, but Kane and Walmsley are also using other local vendors, such as Turner Dairy Farms, Zeke’s Coffee and the North Side’s Mueller’s Hardware for dry goods such as laundry detergent and cat food. Additionally, Kane and Walmsley have reached out to Greenfield Gardens, which both say makes some of Pittsburgh’s best local pickles.

“We’re going to do a really soft opening first. Once the weather clears, we’re going to have a big party,” Kane says. “It’s sort of amazing how it’s all coming together.”

Follow the 52nd Street Market on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Deidre Kane

Downtown Pittsburgh CDC 'hatching' new crowdfunding resource

It’s a debate as old as Mineo’s versus Aiello’s, North Hills versus South Hills or Penguins versus Flyers: Are you a Kickstarter person or an Indiegogo person?

Okay, so maybe it’s just not quite on par with those rivalries. But thanks to a new program launched by the Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation you can crowd-fund your next big idea with a resource right here in Pittsburgh.

The PDCDC has launched Hatch — a civic crowd-funding program especially for creative improvement projects in and around Allegheny County.

“Initially, we’d envisioned this as a Downtown-only program, but it really doesn’t take that much to widen the geographic scope so other communities can benefit from it,” says the PDCDC Communications Director Hadley Pratt. “We’ll work with you to craft a good plan on any sort of project that can benefit the community in some way.”

Like the other crowd-funding sites, Hatch recoups a small percentage of the project’s total funding — in this case, 6 percent. But if the project is referred to Hatch through another community organization, Hatch will split its share evenly with the referring organization.

Hatch, which launched in January after nearly a year in development, is already working to help fund a handful of projects including a theater space, an off-leash dog park, a street lighting project and a lecture series.

At the same time, Pratt says she thinks the program spread the word about crowd-funding to people who might not normally use it.

“We really want to see complete, well-thought-out project proposals and we’ll work with people every step of the way to make sure they have things they can use to engage an audience,” Pratt says. “We want to see things that have a great chance of succeeding and making a difference in the area. We’re open to a lot.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Hadley Pratt

Developer building houses, preserving history on Mt. Washington

Developer Jeff Paul has already built more than 40 homes on Mt. Washington, but his new project includes an especially historic touch.

Tentatively called the Bradley Street Redoubt, Paul’s plan to construct 26 housing units and a park includes the preservation of Pittsburgh’s last known Civil War fortification.

“The cool thing about it now is that nobody really knows it’s there. It’s private property in heavily wooded land you can’t even get to,” Paul says.

When Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia toward Pennsylvania in the summer of 1863, there was local concern he’d try to invade Pittsburgh. Working at a frenetic pace, the city constructed 19 earthen fortifications on high ground around the area. Called redoubts, Mt. Washington’s is the last standing Civil War fortification in Pittsburgh.

“The cool thing about it is that we’re going to be able to create another park for Mt. Washington and a cool space for people to live,” Paul says, adding that eventually, the park and fort will be connected to Emerald View Park through its Greenleaf Street trailhead.

“I think it’s a really interesting case study about how development and preservation can go hand-in-hand,” says Ilyssa Manspeizer, the Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation’s director of park development.

Paul says his company, Pomo Development, will work with local historians and archaeologists to preserve and refurbish the redoubt, and that the housing won’t interfere.

“We’re giving them free reign to preserve and recreate it,” he said, adding that Pomo will be happily footing the bill.

Paul has enlisted the services of architect Ed Pope, with whom he worked on Sweetbriar Village, to design the new homes, each of which will have garages and front porches to create a city-type feel.

“We’re trying to create something like Summerset at Frick here in Mt. Washington,” Paul says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Sources: Jeff Paul, Ilyssa Manspeizer

A ceramics studio is Lawrenceville's latest get

Dan Kuhn grew up in the Allegheny Valley, and the roots his ancestors planted here run so deep, he knew he’d wind up back in Pittsburgh one way or another.

“I came back to Lawrenceville because one side of my family started a small business in town,” Kuhn says. He’s referring to ancestor Edward Frauenheim, who founded the Pittsburgh Brewing Company in 1861.
Now after years spend in California and New York, he’s back and looking to provide Pittsburgh with a place for all things pottery.

Kuhn has rented the 3,000-square-foot space at 158 41st Street in Lawrenceville — an old mechanic’s garage from the 1930s — and is turning it into Ton Pottery, a full studio and gallery space which will aim to serve and grow Pittsburgh’s ceramics community.

Ton will offer everything from ceramics classes for kids, adults and families to services for local artists, such as open studio time, kilns, glaze mixing and to a place for local potters to showcase and sell their work.

“It’s a pretty diverse group of people, and we really want to get them exposure,” Kuhn says. “We’re also going to offer services for local potters. We want to extend professional services to people who might not have the facilities to do these things.”

Ton will start with eight potter’s wheels and eventually build up to 12. In addition to throwing, the facility will offer hand-building space and will be available to rent for parties and other social events. Ton Pottery will hold its grand opening on February 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Kuhn says classes are on schedule to begin March 1st.

“When people think pottery in Pittsburgh, I want them to say, 'I’m going to Lawrenceville! That’s where it’s all happening,'” he says.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Dan Kuhn

Downtown's Night Market returns for a 7th edition

You might remember the last time the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership held a Night Market — it took place on a bridge and happened to coincide with the arrival of a particularly beloved specimen of water fowl.

Granted, Night Market VII won’t clog the Clemente Bridge, nor will it occur simultaneously with the arrival of the bird that spurred a million Facebook photos. But it will be warm, intimate and tailored to the season when it runs from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 131 7th Street this Friday.

“Were going to have about 20 different vendors in the space,” says the PDP’s Leigh White. “We’ve kind of curated it to include some people’s favorite vendors. It feels like each night market takes on its own special vibe.”

This incarnation of Nigh Market will be a stop on the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s first gallery crawl of 2014. Accordingly, the Toonseum is decorating the building’s front windows with comic-themed art.

In addition to vendors offering art, jewelry, crafts, food (Burgh Bites will be on hand with Cuban sandwiches) and warm drinks (including teas from Healcrest Urban Farms and coffee from Zeke's), the market will include music from local singer-songwriter Tori Plack. Oh, and there’ll be soup.

“Last year, we did it in the same space, and that’s one ofd the things we like about the night market — we can adapt it to the seasons,” White says.

For a complete list of vendors, see the event’s website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

Eat + Drink: Bluebird Kitchen expands, Kevin Sousa celebrates, winter restaurant week details

Eat + Drink is Pop City’s weekly roundup of epic local nommz.

Bluebird Kitchen opens second Downtown location
Bluebird Kitchen, the popular Downtown breakfast and lunch spot, opened a second location Monday on the lower level of the First Niagra Building at 11 Stanwix Street.

Like the original, the new installation will offer made-to-order breakfast, salads, sandwiches and pastries. The new Bluebird will be open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. the rest of this week, with breakfast service scheduled to debut next week.

Liz Moore opened the first Bluebird Kitchen at 221 Forbes Avenue, just outside of Market Square, in the spring of 2012.

Crowdfunding pays off for Superior Motors
Kevin Sousa’s crowdfunding campaign for a new farm-to-table restaurant in Braddock reached its goal and then some on Monday.

The Kickstarter campaign for Superior Motors, which sought to raise $250,000 in 33 days, wound up crossing that threshold some 18 hours before time ran out. By the time the clock hit all zeros, Sousa had raised $310,225 from 2,026 different backers, most of whom gave pleged $100 or less.

At the end of last week, the campaign was in serious danger of not hitting its goal. Sousa says that over the weekend, he and Braddock Mayor John Fetterman were staring down the possibility of what to do if they hadn’t met their goal.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” Sousa says.

Pittsburgh Restaurant Week, Winter 2014
The winter edition of 2014 Pittsburgh Restaurant Week starts next Monday and runs through the following Sunday. More than 75 local restaurants will participate, offering everything from specials for $20.14 to prix-fixe menus and other specials.

The kickoff and preview party will take place tomorrow at Bill Chisnell Productions, located at 1111 Penn Avenue in Downtown. Tickets, which may be purchased through ShowClix, are $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kevin Sousa

Community group seeking buyer for historic North Side church

If Pittsburgh has taught us anything, it’s that you can convert an old church to suit almost any need.

Between community centers, art studios, bars and restaurants, a preponderance of old churches has proved one of Pittsburgh’s greatest assets during its ongoing reinvention. Now, there’s an absolute gem on the market.

But don’t expect it to be there for long.

The church which housed the First Immanuel Evangelical Congregation, built by German and Swiss immigrants in 1889 is for sale by its owner, the Community Alliance of Spring Garden and East Deutschtown. The alliance purchased the church four years ago to save it from demolition, and had a congregation using its sanctuary as recently as last month.

Now, it’s looking for a new owner to bring economic potential to the neighborhood while taking care of the historic building.

“We want someone who’d love and care for it, but who’d also bring some kind of economic stimulus to the neighborhood” says Nancy Noszka, a development consultant who’s working with the alliance to help sell the building at 1000 Madison Avenue at Tripoli Street.

Noszka adds that the alliance is working to have the building designated an historic landmark with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and that among the interested parties are people who would look to turn the space into an artists’ social club, gallery space or concert venue.

The church itself occupies a little about 16,000 square feet, including two adjacent buildings which are not a part of the original structure. The building is in pretty good shape for being nearly 125 years old, and sanctuary is in nearly pristine condition — including leaden stained glass windows which, though boarded on the outside, trace their origins to a turn-of-the-century Highland Park glassmaker.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Nancy Noszka

Kevin Sousa to open farm-to-table restaurant in Braddock

If all goes according to plan, Chef Kevin Sousa could bring a game-changing installation to Braddock. But first, he needs the funding.

Sousa, whose restaurants include Salt of the Earth, Union Pig & Chicken and Station Street Hot Dogs, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds necessary to build Superior Motors a hyper-local restaurant from top to bottom, and just one part of what he sees as a local ecosystem capable of stimulating Braddock's economy.

"We don't have a lot of capital right now. The banks are not, at this time, willing to come to Braddock or take that risk," Sousa says. "We're really going for it. We feel like we've really put together a great campaign."

Superior Motors will occupy the space at 1121 Braddock Avenue in a structure which dates to 1921 and was one of the first indoor car dealerships in the country, known for a time as you guessed it Superior Motors. It's directly across from the Edgar Thompson Steel Works, which Sousa says provides a "malignant beauty."

The restaurant will get about 85 percent of its ingredients from within a two-block radius. In addition to utilizing Braddock Farms and the Braddock Apiary just down the street, Superior Motors will sport a 1,000 square-foot greenhouse on its roof, plus an additional 4,000 square feet of on-site, raised-bed gardens. Next door, the Braddock Hostel will provide no-cost housing for the restaurant's staff of culinary and service interns from across the country.

"There will be significant discounts for everyone who lives in Braddock," he says. "It won't be a matter of income. Everyone who wants to eat here will be able to afford this restaurant."

Additionally, Sousa is working with the Braddock Youth Project to offer the area's young people opportunities to develop practical skills in the food and farming trades.

"The goal is to provide more than just summer classes," he says. "We're working on a whole sustainable curriculum."
Sousa projects Superior Motors will be ready to open in early 2015.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Kevin Sousa

Award-winning Holiday Market returns, bigger and better

The Peoples Gas Holiday Market, which earlier this year won a Merit Award from the International Downtown Association, is back up and running in Downtown Pittsburgh’s Market Square.

“Last year, we had 12 to 15 vendors. This year, we have more than 25,” says Leigh White of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. “We have six vendors who came in from overseas and from across the country.”

This year’s market boasts vendors selling holiday goods from Eastern European cultures familiar to Pittsburgh, all the way to special items from Ireland and Nepal. There’s a large tent offering traditional, handmade German decorations, a selection of trees and wreaths of various sizes and plenty to eat.

White added that in addition to adding some more international flavor to this year’s edition — which has turned Market Square into a miniature holiday village — the market has added some Pittsburgh-specific retailers to its repertoire.

Drew and Jeannine Hine’s South Side-based Vessel Studio Glass had a booth part-time at last year’s market, but is back again this year, occupying a full-time space, where they’re offering everything from intricately designed cheese knives to hand-blown tree ornaments —including a mock-up of the much-beloved rubber duck which spent three weeks in Pittsburgh waters earlier this year.

“We’re making more every night just to keep up with demand,” Jeannine Hine says.

White says the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is expecting more than 250,000 visitors to the holiday market, and that it anticipates a very positive effect on the Downtown economy. Last year, for every $100 consumers spent in the market, they spent an additional $500 in Downtown’s other businesses and restaurants.

“One of the biggest reasons we do this is that we want people to come Downtown and shop here, but also shop at the other stores and restaurants, and we’re really seeing the effects of that,” White says.

For a complete list of the market's vendors and operating hours, visit its website.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Leigh White

PCRG initiative seeks to revive housing in Pittsburgh's Sheraden neighborhood

Originally built as one of Pittsburgh’s first working-class developments, Sheraden has seen better days. But if a Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group initiative pays off, better days are still to come.

“You kind of have this perfect storm situation where you had this steady population decline, and when the housing bubble burst, Sheraden was hit harder than any other neighborhood in Pittsburgh,” says the PCRG’s Steve Novotny.

The PCRG chose Sheraden — an historic but declining neighborhood in West Pittsburgh — as the pilot for its Reimagining Communities initiative last year. The initiative, which includes partnerships with NeighborWorks Western PA and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, is taking a multi-faceted approach toward reversing property divestment in one of Pittsburgh’s most overlooked neighborhoods.

PCRG's help, the Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation has acquired a number of vacant and foreclosed properties with the ultimate goal of bringing them up to standard and putting them back on the market.

“At a given time you’ve got about 180 vacant sturctures out of about 900 – about a 20 percent rate. The big take away from that is that over the last few years, only about 20 have been for sale,” Novotny says. “What we’re doing is trying to collect data on the property in the neighborhood, and figure out what’s keeping these properties from being on the market.”

In addition to rehabbing homes and collecting information about how to best move forward, the initiative offers Sheraden residents access to financial education workshops and resources. In doing this, PCRG hopes not only to keep current residents from avoiding foreclosure, but build their financial literacy and personal wealth, in addition to offering free repairs for elderly residents’ homes.

“It helps support our work in the neighborhood in addressing these issues and trying to reactivate the housing market,” Novotny says. “The housing stock is largely still intact. It’s a good mix of older, worker-style and mixed-income housing, and a lot of the homes have front and back yards and off-street parking.”

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Steve Novotny
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