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With Main Street Program Application, Wilkinsburg Plans To Make Improvements

Wilkinsburg could turn into the new South Side, according to the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC), after they re-apply for the Main Street Program.

WCDC Executive Director Tracey Evans said Wilkinsburg has been compared to South Side back in 1975 before they partnered with the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation, and now that Wilkinsburg has partnered with the same foundation, the community is hoping for the same success, especially by being recognized for the Main Street Program.

“The Main Street Program is an approach that has been adopted by the state and federal government to really take a look at traditional business districts and help revitalize their assets their walkability, (and their) historic preservation,” said Evans.

The program makes it easier for business districts to receive loans and grants to help development. Some of the plans for Wilkinsburg are traffic circulation studies, applying for grants to fix up buildings including: façade work, the train station and the Penn Lincoln Hotel which will be torn down to make way for a new office building.

This will be the second time Wilkinsburg will apply for the Main Street Program, after the Pennsylvania Department of Economic and Community Development did not accept any applicants in 2009. As part of the application process WCDC, will be host a public meeting on June 18 in the Council Chambers to share further intentions and community progress.

“We had created a five-year plan back in 2009 and have really implemented it, surpassed it," Evans said. "So we will be sharing information with the community of what’s been accomplished so far in the past five years and then what we’ll be looking at moving forwards.”

Wilkinsburg has a wide variety of 115 businesses, which include the Pittsburgh Asian Market complete with big bags of rice and soy sauce found typically in The Strip, Kenyon Jewelers which specializes in restoring old jewelry and Valley Service and Sales, a locksmith that has been in business since the 1920s.

“We have a group of legacy businesses that have been here a long time, jewelers, dry cleaners, florists, some of these are three generation businesses that have really stood by and been here by supporting Wilkinsburg,” Evans said.

Jess was accepted as a WESA fellow in the news department in January 2014. The Erie, PA native attends Duquesne University where she has a double major--broadcast journalism and political science. Following her anticipated graduation in May 2015, she plans to enter law school or begin a career in broadcast journalism.
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