With a new roof and exterior brickwork, the 103-year-old Wilkinsburg Train Station is looking for tenants. The historic structure sat vacant for nearly 50 years and is in the midst of a significant restoration.
Work on the Beaux-Arts building began three years ago after decades of ownership changes and bankruptcy. Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation executive director Tracey Evans said the mixed-use commercial property has 9,000 square feet for offices, restaurants or retail. Leases would begin in 2020.
Wilkinsburg was once one of the wealthiest communities in Allegheny County, Evans said, but population decline and disinvestment led to blight throughout much of the borough. She said the restoration of the train station is a “symbol of Wilkinsburg’s renaissance.”
“The train station sitting there vacant was just the symbol of blight for decades,” Evans said. “Now, there’s a lot of investment happening.”
Developers are taking notice. In 2018, commercial property sales brought in $13 million for the borough, compared to $2 million in 2015.
A coalition of community groups raised over $5 million for the Wilkinsburg Train Station and it was designated a national historic site by the National Parks Service. Evans said crews will reference historic photos and source material to replicate the structure, even down to fixing the iconic rooftop clock. Currently, workers are polishing and cleaning the interior marble and awaiting a special shipment of additional pieces from Italy.