Main Street Revitalization Programs
For over thirty years, PHLF has worked with neighborhoods and towns to preserve historic commercial buildings, retain businesses and recruit new ones, and assist in making our region’s central business distrcits great places to live, work, and play. For PHLF, this work started in the 1960s with a comprehensive plan to revitalize the business district along E. Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side. Read on for more information about our current programs and available services.
PHLF is known for restoring signature historical buildings. That work is critical, but it’s only part of what we do. We take pride in our ability to achieve a sustained revitalization in communities that face difficult challenges. We are passionate about this work. And we have a strong team with broad experience and expertise in identifying and implementing effective business district revitalization strategies. We are actively working with 12 downtown revitalization programs across Allegheny and Butler counties.
The results speak for themselves. We helped initiate the improvements to Carson Street at a time thirty years ago when most people had given up on the South Side. We brought new life to Station Square in the face of deep skepticism from many in the financial and development communities. And today, we are deeply involved in breathing new life into another community many had given up on – Wilkinsburg. We are restoring eight single family historic homes and are working to restore two significant apartment buildings. We created a park and lighted a building containing a minority owned business on Penn Avenue, Wilkinsburg’s Main Street.
Where We Work:
- Revitalization Planning Assistance
- Market Research, Drive-Time Analyses, Retail Opportunity Gap Analyses, Demographic and Trade Area information
- Design Guidelines
- Traffic & Parking Analyses
- Historic Building Inventories
- Business Recruitment & Retention
- Restoration and Construction Management Services
This is how PHLF makes a difference. We don’t limit ourselves to what can easily be achieved. We don’t just offer a formulaic approach. When we start work in a community, we begin by taking a step back to try and get a good look at the whole picture. We work to understand the local and regional market. We identify local assets that can be built on and challenges that must be overcome. We work hand in hand with the community to lay out a vision and a plan that can have a dramatic long-term impact. And then we start to take steady strides toward that vision. Step by step, we build momentum. We see the community’s sense of pride and optimism about the future begin to return. It becomes less about specific projects and more about individuals willing to step up and invest in themselves again. Getting to this point isn’t easy. It takes patience and perseverance. But it is possible. And it’s how you can begin to move mountains.
Main Street initiatives often focus on streetscape improvements. That’s understandable – they are defined projects that, though not always easy, are certainly achievable. And an improved streetscape can play a helpful role as a component in a larger strategy. In fact, no Main Street initiative would be complete with a shabby streetscape. But, on its own, even the grandest streetscape project cannot fill vacant storefronts, it cannot give customers a more varied retail offering, it cannot bring new energy to main street. There are scores of towns across Pennsylvania that have stuck to this model and have learned that a temporary facelift will do little to fundamentally alter the underlying economics. We use real estate to attract new businesses.
PHLF is now managing the Main Street programs in 11 communities throughout Allegheny County. We are the lead consultant for Allegheny County’s Main Street initiative that is focusing on the business districts in Stowe, Tarentum, Elizabeth, Bridgeville, Verona, Coraopolis, Bellevue, Carnegie, Dormont, Aspinwall, and Homestead. In each of these communities, we are respecting the four-point Main Street approach, promoted by The National Trust for Historic Preservation, while bringing PHLF’s full resources, creativity and expertise to bear. We are augmenting the Main Street mold to apply the lessons we have learned and to set a path that we believe can lead to sustained revitalization. We want to be able to look back on these efforts in thirty years and see more than a worn streetscape project. As with Carson Street, we hope to see a re-energized, viable and thriving business district.
For more information about PHLF’s Main Street assistance, contact:
Director, Main Street Programs