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City Agency to Apply for State Grants for Major Developments in Downtown, East Liberty

Rachel R. Grozanick
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is working to snag $9.25 million in state grants for two major new projects in Downtown and the East End, as well as for two smaller developments in Oakland and the West End.

On Tuesday, the URA submitted to city council legislation that would allow the agency to apply for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants from Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett's budget office. The Corbett administration has already confirmed that the grants will be awarded if the enabling legislation passes council.

URA special projects manager Paul Svoboda said the Gardens at Market Square project in downtown Pittsburgh would receive a $4 million RACP grant. He said the $82 million development by Millcraft Industries will include offices, retail space, a 176-bed hotel and a parking garage.

Svoboda said the redevelopment would replace some "underutilized" buildings on Forbes Avenue between Market Square and Wood Street, including The Exchange record store and the former George Aiken grocery.

"With the exception of the Italian Sons & Daughters Building on the corner of Forbes and Wood, Forbes Avenue will have a whole new streetscape after they're done with that project," Svoboda said.

He said the Gardens project complements another recent Millcraft redevelopment across the street and plays well off of the newly renovated Market Square.

The other three projects that would receive RACP grants: the Bakery Square 2.0 mixed-use development in East Liberty ($4 million), a new technology center for the steamfitters union in the West End ($750,000) and the Schenley Place project in Oakland ($500,000).

The eight bills are up for a committee vote on April 17.