In 2008, Mayor Ravenstahl launched the Taking Care of Business Districts Program, a three-pronged approach to revitalizing and reinvesting in our neighborhood lifelines- our business districts.
The City of Pittsburgh has roughly 50 neighborhood business districts, 15 of which are within Mainstreet Districts. The Mayor's Taking Care of Business Districts Program was created as a complement to other programs and initiatives underway to ensure that we are efficiently and effectively deploying resources and making smart investments by tailoring the program to fit each business district and their priorities.
Funding for the program was made available by our local delegation at the State by Senator Costa, Senator Ferlo and Senator Fontana through Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) grants. We have received $625,000 in a Community Conservation and Employment Program Grant (DCED) and two smaller grants; $200,000 for street trees and $150,000 overall program.
The program supports small businesses, and improves the overall streetscapes of our neighborhood business districts in efforts to attract new customers and businesses. The program packages new and existing services in a three-pronged approach to improving the streetscapes of neighborhood business districts.
Teams of City employees from various City departments and authorities, such as the Department of Public Works (DPW), the Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI), the Bureau of Police, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) have been working to overhaul a number of neighborhood business districts, spending up to one week in each district focusing on 311 complaints, graffiti removal, line and curb painting, pothole patching, sidewalk repairs, code enforcement, vacant lot maintenance and de-cluttering of utility poles, wires and news-racks.
Hokeypatrols, five City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Works employees, are designated to clean and maintain clean 5-10 neighborhood business districts on an ongoing basis.
By utilizing sweeps, working from a list of issues provided by the business districts and reintroducing a five-man hokey patrol, the TCOB program proactively addresses infrastructure problems, enabling short-term improvements and long-term development strategies.
The URA and the Mayor's Office have established contacts in and coordinated outreach to every neighborhood business district in order to prioritize needs and select improvements to install in each area. The following menu has been offered to all business districts:
- Street Trees
- Trash/Recycling Receptacles
- Bike Racks
- Benches/Street Furniture
- Storefront Renovation Grants
- Gateway Signage
The URA will select five business districts to conduct a two-day design charette lead by a professional consultant and work with these districs as "priority areas" to implement visioning through comprehensive redevelopment. Neighborhoods selected will be equitably distributed from all quadrants of the City of Pittsburgh (North, South, East, West and Center). Neighborhoods will represent the following criteria:
- Market-Based Value Analysis (MVA) Strategy
- Business districts with other catalytic development within vacinity.
- Buisness districts that are in most need of a branding strategy.
- Business districts that the URA can invest in and can promote other types if investment.
- Neighborhood Business districts that have Local Development Companies (LDC's) that have a level of capacity to assist and implement recommendations.