When the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) set out to bring new businesses to its commercial core, it realized there was one major problem—none of the available storefronts were up to code. So the WCDC worked with the Borough of Wilkinsburg and developed a program to remedy its retail woes.
Its solution was the Storefront Improvement Program
, which enables property owners to be reimbursed up to $10,000 for renovations to retail structures.
Building owner Jay Blackford recently became the first property owner to make use of the program, successfully completing renovations to his building on Penn Avenue.
And not only has the storefront been renovated, but the project succeeded in attracting a new business to Wilkinsburg. Pittsburgh Natural Chef
, a catering company, has a lease-to-own agreement at the retail space, where it now operates.
Renovations addressed structural issues, water damage, and provided electrical and lighting upgrades. The space is now equipped for commercial food production, including walk-in freezers and coolers.
WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans says the program, along with other façade and business improvement grants, is critical to revitalizing the borough’s commercial district.
“I think it works well with the all the other pieces,” she says. “It’s really important for us to continue to get support to get these buildings occupied.”
Writer: Andrew Moore
Source: Tracey Evans