© 2023 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Acceptance into PA’s Main Street Program Expected to Aid in Wilkinsburg's Revitalization

Wilkinsburg is a community in transition, and now it’s getting help to implement change.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC) has announced that the borough has been accepted into the Main Street program.

The state operated Main Street program helps communities revitalize their central business districts and residential neighborhoods.

“It will give us more access to funding from the state for projects, such as façade grants or other planning grants that we need to continue working on,” said Tracey Evans, WCDC executive director.

A façade grant provides matching funds for business or property owners.

“Basically to do anything that improves the front of your building – signs, windows, masonry work, paint – and we provide technical assistance here at our office to help make sure that those projects really make the front of the buildings look better and that will contribute to the overall improvement of the business district,” she said.

According to Evans, acceptance into the program will also make downtown Wilkinsburg businesses eligible to apply for Enterprise Zone Tax Credits through the Neighborhood Assistance Program.

But she said the program won’t necessarily change their efforts because the WCDC has been working since 2008 to revitalize the business district – including cleaning up the borough’s streetscape and planting more than a hundred trees and plants.

Instead, she said the program will aid in ongoing efforts.

“We’re currently looking at a traffic circulation study that will change some of our one-way streets,” Evans said. “We need to take a good hard look at our parking lots and if those can be improved, and those are things that are hard to fund, so we’ll be able to get some funding for those projects.”

She said they plan to restore the Wilkinsburg Railroad Station as well as several other projects this year.

“We’re very engaged right now in a couple of 2015 projects for our businesses that are here, and that will help us get more resources for them,” Evans said. “We’re marketing and promoting the businesses that have been here for a long time and then the new ones that we’ve had moving in.”

She said they’ve seen a lot of people starting to look at property in Wilkinsburg – 35 properties have sold recently – but there’s still work to do.

“Wilkinsburg has a very large business district,” Evans said. “We have 127 parcels, but we still have 40 completely vacant buildings, and the other ones that have been here for some time need a lot of upgrades and maintaining and fixing these buildings is expensive to do it the right way.”

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.
To make informed decisions, the public must receive unbiased truth.

As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

WESA is primarily funded by listener contributions. Your financial support comes with no strings attached. It is free from commercial or political influence…that’s what makes WESA a free vital community resource. Your support funds important local journalism by WESA and NPR national reporters.

You give what you can, and you get news you can trust.
Please give now to continue providing fact-based journalism — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a big difference.