(PITTSBURGH) April 4, 2012 Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess today commenced the demolition of some of Homewood’s most dilapidated and dangerous properties located in the proverbial “Killing Fields” – a milestone that has been highly anticipated by both community members and City officials. The tearing down of 610-618 Collier Street marks the start of the City’s demolition season, and will soon be followed by the demo of nearby 613-619 Collier Street in the coming weeks, and 7306-7384 and 7506-7546 Furmosa Way later this spring.
“We made a promise to the Homewood community that we would rid the neighborhood of these unsafe properties, which have been a hotbed for criminal activity, and today we are making good on that promise,” said Ravenstahl. “We can now reclaim and restore this area for the Homewood neighborhood, transforming these blocks into community assets, not eyesores.”
Following the Collier Street properties’ condemnation in December 2008, the City has worked aggressively to either see the vacant houses improved by the property owner, or to demolish the structures that were posing a safety risk to residents. Finally, in late 2011 the Courts ruled to authorize demolition of the structures.
"This marks the beginning of the renewal and revival of the Homewood community,” said Councilman Burgess. “Like the fabled phoenix, something significant and sustainable will rise from the dust and bricks on this site."
For the past six years, Mayor Ravenstahl has prioritized the demolition and restoration of neglected and blighted properties in order to make Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods cleaner and safer. To date, $20 million has been dedicated to demolishing over 3,700 properties in an effort to enhance public safety efforts in the City’s neighborhoods. In 2012, an additional $3.3 million has been dedicated to continuing this progress.
“Abandoned and vacant homes encourage illegal and dangerous activities in our neighborhoods,” said Ravenstahl. “When preservation is not an option, demolition is the necessary next step to enhance safety in these areas.”
Mayor Ravenstahl and City officials have also ramped up the City’s greening efforts in response to the open lots created by demolition. In addition to the work of City departments, like the Department of Public Works’ “Green Team,” the Mayor has created programs that provide residents the tools necessary to create their own neighborhood green space or community garden. Programs such as:
Additionally, the City continues its efforts to preserve Pittsburgh's existing homes and buildings. Recently, the Urban Redevelopment Authority announced that it is seeking funding for a new program called "Preserve Pittsburgh." The program will work to enhance the historic fabric of the City's neighborhoods by stabilizing condemned properties that have been identified as significant to the neighborhood by community groups and stakeholders.