With high gas prices luring more folks toward urban living, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is striking while the iron is hot.
The Mayor kicked off his Taking Care of Business program (TCOB) at the storefront of one of Brookline's most time-tested businesses, Sal's Barber Shop. The program, with support from Governor Rendell's Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Senators Jim Ferlo, Wayne Fontana, and Jay Costa, will overhaul the City's 50 major neighborhood business districts with clean sweeps, infrastructure improvements and long-term strategies to renew the neighborhood lifelines.
"Our neighborhood business districts drive the health of our communities," Ravenstahl said. "Now is the time to take action, to join with our friends in government, doing what we can to reenergize and reinvest right here in our backyards. If we want to continue to grow and improve Pittsburgh, we have to keep our local businesses strong and vibrant."
A three-pronged strategy of cleaning, investing, and strategic planning will guide the Mayor's plan. Starting today in the heart of Brookline's business district, City public works and safety crews will 'sweep' the area and five full-time "hokey" patrols will return to storefronts Citywide. Working from a list of action items delivered by 311 callers and businesses, the TCOB crews will be citing properties, removing graffiti, painting road lines, and responding to on-the-spot concerns from citizens.
"Instead of our City workers responding to individual requests to remove graffiti, or repair a sidewalk, we will be sweeping our business districts with the whole team on deck - getting it done right and fast," Ravenstahl said. "But, we know we must do more than just clean up our districts. We will think long-term, reinvesting in development strategies that will once again make our business districts one-stop-shops. Flourishing neighborhood business districts will drive families who are tired of the traffic and high gas prices into our City."
The City's Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will also be deployed to address the other side of the investment equation - long-term investment strategies. Neighborhood development specialists will man sidewalk tents to offer expertise on small business programs and storefront renovation loans that are available now.
The TCOB sweeps will take up to one week in each district and the model will continue to move Citywide with Sheraden and East Liberty up next.
After the TCOB sweeps, business districts will begin to receive improvement hardware - tangible items such as trees, street lights, bike racks, or gateway signage, based on a survey sent to the districts in March.
"We're not going to tell businesses what they need to improve their status, we're going to let them tell us," Mayor Ravenstahl said. "At the same time, we are calling on our small business owners to help the hokey patrols keep our storefronts clean, and our streets safe. We are asking them to look to the future, to think about what it is they need to return their districts into one-stop neighborhood destinations."
Business districts will begin to receive neighborhood improvement items by early Fall. Through support from DCED's Tree-Vitalize program, more than 200 trees will be planted throughout the districts, and all will be receiving new garbage cans.
Lastly, the Mayor will take care of business by targeting five neighborhood business districts from each section of the City to implement long-term visioning, branding, and redevelopment strategies. A private consultant will work hands-on with the districts, guiding the priority areas toward reinvestment strategies which take into account the City's Market Value Analysis.
"We will be taking care of our neighborhood business districts using a three-pronged strategy," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said. "By giving them the attention they need now with our sweeps and hokey patrols, investing in trees and neighborhood hardware, and guiding our neighborhoods toward long-term redevelopment strategies, we will generate more pride in sustainable, City living."
The estimated cost of the program is $825,000. The Mayor will introduce legislation to Council this Friday.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
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Office of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
512 City County Building | 414 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
telephone: 412-255-2626 | facsimile: 412-255-2687