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URA Gives Three Hill District Projects $250K In Neighborhood Initiatives Funds

Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA
Diamonte Walker, deputy director of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, announces $250,000 in grant funding for three Hill District projects on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020.

Three Hill District projects are getting a boost from the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh. The URA announced $250,000 in grants Tuesday afternoon from its Neighborhood Initiatives Fund. 

The Amani Christian Community Development Corporation was awarded $100,000 to support redevelopment of two parcels located at the intersection of Herron and Wylie avenues, including an historic triangular building. The project will include a 1,600-square-foot architecture and design accelerator, studio and gallery.  

A $100,000 grant was awarded to the Hill District Federal Credit Union to double the size of its facility on Centre Avenue. The funds will help the credit union expand financial education services and counseling, according to CEO Richard Witherspoon. He noted that the Hill District Federal Credit Union is the only Black-owned banking institution in the region.

“Today, with the consciousness in society toward social and economic justice in African American communities across the country, there is a higher desire to support and help to prosper institutions such as ours,” Witherspoon said.

The Hill Community Development Corporation was awarded $50,000 for their Wylie Avenue Restaurant project. The initial stages of that development have been completed, but Hill CDC real estate development manager David Serbin said the grant will help support turning two lots adjacent to the restaurant site into a chef’s garden and an outdoor dining area compliant with social distancing guidelines. 

Credit Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA
90.5 WESA
Centre Avenue in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

Diamonte Walker, URA deputy director, said Tuesday the investment exemplifies how the URA collaborates with community partners.

“We really want them to know that even though we’re here today with a check, when we walk away we are still here with them on the ground working to see these projects come to fruition,” she said.

Moving these three projects forward could breathe new life into the Centre Avenue corridor, according to Walker. Last year, the URA requested proposals for 170 mostly vacant parcels along the neighborhood's main artery, in an effort to restore Centre Avenue as a center of commerce, anchored by women-and minority-owned businesses.

The three grants announced Tuesday are part of the second round of the Neighborhood Initiatives Fund, which totals $568,000 awarded to 12 neighborhood improvement projects and programs across nine neighborhoods. The program focuses investment in Community Development Block Grant-eligible communities. Last week, the city announced $100,000 will be invested to improve Cindy Esser Plaza, located on the corner of East Carson and 12th streets.

Kiley covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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