Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beechview Tries to Revitalize Its Retail Corridor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Beechview Tries to Revitalize Its Retail Corridor

Article excerpt

The retail scene on Broadway Avenue in Beechview has taken a half-step back for each step forward for several years, but it's a lot better than it was 10 years ago.

In recognition of that, the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority has hired consultant Dave Brewton "to do what a business district manager for a CDC [community development corporation] would do," said Josette Fitzgibbons, the URA's neighborhood business district manager.

Mr. Brewton's focus will be to stir interest in five URA-owned properties in the 1600 block of Broadway.

A committee of URA, city and neighborhood representatives chose Mr. Brewton, whose work is being funded by an $80,000 grant from Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak. Mr. Brewton was director of the housing nonprofit Breachmenders in West Oakland for years. He formed DRB Community Development Consultants two years ago.

Ms. Rudiak said Beechview has been without a community development professional who can raise money independent of public agencies, to which foundations don't give money. In addition, she said, "the URA is a stretched public agency. We wanted someone who is hyper-focused on Beechview, who can build relationships with foundations and other nonprofits."

Mr. Brewton said it could take five years for the market to respond, but added "there are things we can do now."

"The first thing I did was to get the electric sign fixed," he said, referring to a marquee at Broadway and Hampshire avenues that posts announcements and welcomes people to Beechview.

He said one of his ideas is to create events on the streets, lighting the buildings like backdrops in a theater set "so the street doesn't go dark at night," he said. "What if we got performances on the streets, and if every time someone does an event, with tents and portable heaters, we asked for a contribution and got grants to match it, as fundraisers for these buildings?

"A group that has a liability policy and volunteers might be willing to do some sweat equity to improve a building" as a trade- off. …

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