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Peduto's Proposed Budget Includes Storefront Renovation Spending Increase

To spur small business growth, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced Tuesday that his proposed 2015 budget will include a sharp increase in spending for storefront and streetface renovation, as well as business district support grants.

Renovation funds are proposed to jump from $75,000 to $360,000. Storefront renovation funds are matching grants of up to $5,000 used by businesses to improve aesthetics, while the streetface program provides businesses with $35,000 in forgivable loans in an attempt to revitalize struggling business districts.

Broadway Avenue in Beechview – which includes an IGA grocery store, an artisan meat market and a small coffee shop – is one such district.

City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who represents the Beechview neighborhood, said the proposed budget increase will bring new life to the aging corridor.

“With more funding for the storefront renovation and streetface programs that are in the capital budget, we will work with other businesses to enhance Broadway Avenue buildings and ensure that people passing through on the trolley see continued transformation and improvement in Beechview,” she said.

This past year, Rudiak set aside funds in her council office budget to hire Business District Consultant David Brewton, who is working with Urban Redevelopment Authority staff and the mayor’s office to improve Broadway Avenue.

“Our staff is small in our council office, but the need is large and through partnerships we’re going to get through this and revitalize our Main Street,” she said.

Rudiak hopes to attract the next generation of business owners by improving the look of the district.

“With the help of the storefront renovation and streetface programs, we can help to renovate some of these old buildings and make them suitable for the next wave of retail and services,” she said.

The budget still needs to be approved by council and could be modified before any renovations can start.

“Moving forward, I look forward to working with Mayor Peduto, small businesses and neighborhood leaders to ensure that a good share of these funds are spent in Beechview,” Rudiak said.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."