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$350,000 Colcom Grant to fund PDP's Paris to Pittsburgh Facade Grant Program

Efforts to enliven Downtown Pittsburgh with Parisian-esque streetscapes have been renewed thanks to a recent grant from the Colcom Foundation.  The $350,000 award will further the Paris to Pittsburgh Façade Grant Program, a project of the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP).

Launched in early 2008, the program provides a 50 percent matching grant of up to $30,000 to building and business owners for exterior façade renovations in the Golden Triangle. 

The original goal of the program was to evoke a “Parisian atmosphere” by activating outdoor and sidewalk dining at local restaurants.  In 2010, the program was expanded and now includes full building façade renovations. 

The PDP’s Geof Comings says the grant program has allowed owners to invest in their businesses in ways that for many would not be possible without the assistance.

“The program has allowed them to make significant improvements that benefit not just their business, but improve the quality of Downtown architecture for all to enjoy,” he says.

According to Comings, many buildings in the program are beautiful old structures that in past decades had suffered from poorly conceived façade alterations.  And while Paris to Pittsburgh is not a historic renovation program, in many cases the restorations do bring a building’s first floor back to an earlier aesthetic period.  

Comings says that until recently downtown was still an uncertain place to invest. 

"But now that things are just looking so good in downtown, and everyone is heading in this positive direction, people are putting more money into their buildings, and it shows," he says.

In the past five years more than 50 projects have been approved and 43 have been completed.  The total investment in completed projects totals $2,057,580,of which $749,852 is grant funded.  Remaining costs were funded through private investment.

Three projects expected to be completed in the coming year include Café Milano on Sixth Street, 901 Penn Avenue–home of the new Nicky’s Thai Kitchen and the soon-to-open Sinful Sweets chocolate shop, and a storefront at 604 Liberty Avenue.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Geof Comings
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