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Development & Transportation

North Side & Polish Hill Redevelopment Apps Backed By URA In $1.5M Ask

Kathleen J. Davis
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh's URA leaders approved four projects to include in an upcoming $1.5 million request through the Keystone Communities Program on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2017.

Four applications to revitalize neighborhoods and foster social and economic diversity passed initial scrutiny by the Pittsburgh Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday.

The URA is asking for a combined $1.5 million in state Keystone Communities Program funding to fill gaps in local resources. State decision makers will choose which, if any, projects they want to fund.

If approved, the money would be split four ways.

The Choice Neighborhood Homeowner Assistance Program and East Ohio Street would each receive $250,000 toward accessibility improvements for people with physical handicaps and general refurbishing, respectively; $400,000 would go to redeveloping the Polish Hill Gateway; and $600,000 would benefit the Neighborhood Business District Program, a URA grant program that aims to revitalize business districts in several Pittsburgh neighborhoods. 

Mark Fatla, executive director of the Northside Leadership Conference, said the East Ohio Street development project would be a welcome addition to the community.

"It meets the neighborhood's goal," he said. "We said we want first-floor retail, we want apartments in the business district and we want to preserve what's still worth preserving and create new construction opportunities that fit the context of the street."

The redevelopment plan for East Ohio Street would demolish at least two buildings on the strip and put in  ground-floor shops and apartments above. Fatla said "affordable housing" isn't necessarily the goal for the 18 residential spaces, but he wants East Ohio Street to be accessible for people of all income levels.

"This project is just the latest piece of a much longer transformation," he said. "The district now has wonderful restaurants and shops and is a much more active and vibrant neighborhood... That's what we're striving for."