I'm happy to report that our office has been working diligently with the mayor's administration to move forward on the long-awaited Beechview Senior Center Renovation! We have been waiting for this project for over a decade, and moving it forward has been a top priority. State Representatives Michael Diven and Chelsa Wagner had dedicated a combined $1.5 million to the project, but real estate deals fell through over the years, and the City was having trouble finding the right property to purchase and renovate.
This past December, I introduced legislation for the City to purchase 1557 Broadway Avenue, the building that houses the current senior center; it passed unanimously. There will be a complete interior and exterior renovation of the building that will result in new space dedicated to senior center programming and community events. A public meeting will be held to gather feedback from the community in the near future so stay tuned to our website or call our office for more information!
The Future is Bright on Broadway!
The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is the City of Pittsburgh's economic development agency, and they currently own four key vacant buildings along our Broadway Avenue business district. Our office meets with them monthly to discuss opportunitiesfor funding and brainstorm new uses for these prime spaces. About $1 million will be required to renovate these four buildings-- 1600, 1601, 1602 and 1619 Broadway Avenue-- some of which has already been committed by the URA and county grant programs. THe URA is applying for another grant from the County to complete their funding plan and mvoe forward with renovations of 1600 and 1601. With new businesses such as Brew on Broadway, the IGA Market on Broadway, Crested Duck Charcuterie and Casa Rasta, entrepreneurs and developers can easily see the potential of Beechview.
Revitalizing our City Parks
South Pittsburgh is special for so many reasons, and one of my favorites is our plentitude of parks and greenspace. We are now working with the Beechview Athletic Association and the Department of Public Works to construct restrooms and a concession stand at Alton FIeld, where hundreds of kids play throughout the warm months. This is yet another project that has been on the books for years but has had trouble moving forward. We expect construction to take place in 2013.
In addition, we have cleaned up dumpsites in Seldom Seen Greenway, children spend their summers at the new spray park, playground equipment has been cleaned of vandalism, and the community garden across from Beechwood Elementary School is thriving.
Building on our Most Valuable Asset: Transit
Beechview is unique among City neighborhoods in that we have incredibly easy access to our light rail transit. Our stops are along our main business district, where we can easily walk to the coffeeshop & then hop on the trolley to work...or to a ball game on the North Side! We're looking to capitalize on that idea by further improving access to public transit and beautifying our business district. We want people who ride the train to want to stop in Beechview, rather than riding on through.
In 2011, our office organized public meetings with the Department of City Planning, the community, and many other stakeholders to listen to you, the citizens, about what you want to see on Broadway. The final project is the Transit Revitalization Investment District (TRID) plan, which identified a number of short, medium and long-term design improvements. Ideas included simple things like better lighting and signage to direct people to Broadway Avenue and transit stops. Longer-term, the plan recommended redesigning our streets and sidewlaks to make them more attractive, slow traffic, and prioritize pedestrian safety. With limited funding at our disposal, this study was an important first step to understanding what the public wants to prioritize.