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$350K Grant for Facelift for Downtown Pittsburgh

A grant that's going to a downtown Pittsburgh nonprofit might kick start the area's aesthetic makeover.  Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation awarded the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP) with $350,000. PDP decided to use the funds for the Paris to Pittsburgh Facade Grant Program, which provides a 50% matching grant of up to $30,000 to downtown business owners interested in revamping their business' exterior.

Geof Comings, Economic Development Director for the PDP, said the Paris concept was created because in that city, visitors are "a part of the street."

"When you think of Paris, you do just think of outdoor cafes, street life, and just that experience," Comings said.  What you don't think of is walking into one business, and disappearing."

There are two grants associated with the PDP's Paris to Pittsburgh initiative-- the sidewalk activation grant and the facade grant.  The sidewalk activation grant is limited to outside enhancements, like outdoor seating for restaurants, while the facade grant appeals to businesses that don't necessarily want or need those amenities such as retail shops. 

"The facade grant is something that we really wanted to do because we were telling people 'no we can't help you with your building facade because it didn't meet the requirement of [sidewalk] activation," Comings said.  "So, [the facade grant] is something that can be used for basically from the sidewalk up to the roof of the building."

A business that has already used it's facade grant money is Cardamone's Salon on the corner of Wood and Forbes.  During it's expansion, Comings said it acquired another storefront and a security gate that didn't compliment the existing structure.  The grant allowed the business to renovate the facade, get rid of the gate, and create a comprehensive look.  But, Comings said the facade grant benefits more than just the business owner.

"It I think serves to pull people through downtown more, because they feel safer because they see more people," Comings said.