In late December, Pennsylvania made two funding announcements of about $5 million each, both related to community revitalization.
$5 million for 42 Building Restoration, Façade & Housing Projects
On December 30, 2019, Governor Tom Wolf announced the approval of more than $5 million in new funding to support 42 community revitalization projects across the commonwealth.
Administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Keystone Communities program is designed to support local initiatives that grow and stabilize neighborhoods and communities, foster effective public-private partnerships, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.
“Supporting initiatives that encourage revitalization and business development in our communities is critically important to the economic prosperity of Pennsylvania,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “The Keystone Communities program is so vital to improving people’s lives, pushing our business sector forward, and growing Pennsylvania’s economy.”
Since January 2015, the Wolf Administration has approved more than $27 million through the Keystone Communities program to fund hundreds of projects statewide, including façade grants for businesses, accessible housing projects, public infrastructure improvements, and other projects to strengthen communities and downtown districts.
Restore Pennsylvania, the $4.5 billion bipartisan proposal funded through a tax on fracking activities, is designed to aggressively address the commonwealth’s vital infrastructure needs and is the only plan to make Pennsylvania a leader in the 21st century. The plan would further bolster community improvement efforts like those currently being invested in through the Keystone Communities program and would help replicate those projects across the state. Unfortunately, it also makes the state’s infrastructure renewal dependent on the continuation of environmentally-destructive fracking activities, which is why the oil companies allowed the state to pass the tax.
“These projects will better the lives of thousands of Pennsylvanians through infrastructure, beautification, and quality of life improvements in cities and towns across Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Wolf. “These projects complement the priorities set forth by the administration to improve infrastructure and communities across the commonwealth, but pales in comparison to the improvements that could be made through Restore Pennsylvania.”
The following projects received over $5.5 million:
• Best of the Batch Foundation: $300,000 to construct a new educational complex located in Munhall Borough. Best of the Batch Foundation has created The Clubhouse as a safe environment for kids to have after-school activities, recreation, and receive guidance.
• FCP Services, Inc.: $210,638 to excavate and stabilize the 3,500-square-foot basement floor and foundation of the Depot building, part of a larger project to reclaim a blighted building in the central business district of Tarentum Borough.
• Hilltop Alliance: $41,026 to stabilize and enhance two anchor buildings located in the first block of the Hilltop neighborhood of Allentown’s East Warrington Avenue business district.
• Mon Valley Initiative: $500,000 for rehabilitation and construction of a mixed-use project at the intersection of Miller and St. Clair Avenues in the Clairton.
• Armstrong County: $100,000 to continue the delivery of an accessible housing program throughout the county.
• Downtown Bedford, Inc.: $350,000 grant-to-loan funding to renovate a historic vacant building located at a major downtown intersection in the designated Keystone Main Street area in Bedford.
• Reading: $234,266 to revitalize a pocket park located near Penn Street.
• Altoona-Blair Development Corporation: $313,000 grant-to-loan funding for improvements to the former Vipond building.
Bradford County/ Wyoming County
• Pennsylvania Route 6 Alliance: $103,000 to implement a façade improvement program targeting both the Route 6 Corridor and the Endless Mountains Heritage Region.
• Quakertown: $50,000 façade grant for a façade improvement program in the designated Keystone Main Street area of Quakertown Borough, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Redevelopment Authority of Bucks County: $50,000 façade grant for a façade improvement program in downtown Bristol, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Bellefonte: $500,000 grant-to-loan for the rehabilitation of the Gamble Mill building.
• West Chester Business Improvement District Authority: $10,000 for the development of a five-year revitalization strategy in downtown West Chester.
• Clearfield Revitalization Corporation: $50,000 to continue the façade improvement program in the designated Keystone Main Street District of Clearfield, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Coalport Streetscape Committee: $50,000 to implement a façade improvement program in Coalport, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• DuBois Renaissance, Inc.: $50,000 to implement a façade improvement program in the downtown area of DuBois, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Camp Curtin YMCA: $150,000 to construct affordable housing in uptown Harrisburg. The project will construct five new homes on one vacant lot on the corner of Woodbine and Jefferson Streets.
• Lansdowne Economic Development Corp.: $50,000 to assist in the construction of the Lansdowne Maker Space, a 2,500-square-foot tech-based maker space.
• Upper Chichester Township: $25,000 to create an economic development action plan for the Boothwyn Town Center.
• St. Marys: $50,000 for a façade grant program focused on the downtown area and State Route 255, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Our West Bayfront: $82,200 to assist 18 income-eligible homeowners with emergency repairs to ensure the homes do not become blighted.
• ServErie: $49,900 to implement a façade assistance program to homeowners within a five-block span on East 6th, 7th, and 8th Streets from Parade to Wayne Streets, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Mainstreet Waynesboro, Inc.: $50,000 for a façade grant program in the downtown area, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Downtown Chambersburg: $50,000 to implement a façade improvement program, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Indiana County: $62,808 to demolish the former G.C. Murphy building located in Blairsville Borough. The site, when cleared, will be used as a green space and community gathering area.
• United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania: $25,000 to create a neighborhood revitalization plan for the Pinebrook section of Scranton.
• City of Lancaster: $100,000 to improve sidewalk conditions, pave the street, and install piano key crosswalks along five blocks of Howard Avenue in southeast Lancaster.
• Main Street Mount Joy: $50,000 for a façade grant program, which will complement the current downtown revitalization plan, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• New Castle: $257,500 to assist low and moderate-income homeowners in two neighborhoods with needed emergency repairs.
• Lebanon Foundation, Inc.: $50,000 to implement a new façade improvement program in the designated Keystone Main Street District of the City of Lebanon, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress: $30,000 to create a welcome center on the ground floor of the PSU Hazleton LaunchBox at 13-15 W. Broad Street. The space is designed to serve as a pop-up shop for start-up culinary and retail businesses, but it will also double as a welcome and information center for the downtown.
• City of Bradford: $300,000 to implement a two-phased streetscape project to improve the function, design, safety, and walkability of the historic district. Improvements will include sidewalk replacement and curbing, milling and paving, installation of new decorative light poles, refurbishing the existing light poles, replacing blacktop repair areas, and adding new pavement markings.
• Downtown Lewistown, Inc.: $142,155 to implement a downtown connector project along West Water Street. Improvements include construction of sidewalk and curbing as well as ADA accessible ramps. This connector will serve as an important link from the Kish Riverwalk to the Victory Park and the recently completed segment of the Juniata River Trail.
• Danville Business Alliance: $50,000 to launch a professional, cohesive marketing, branding, and wayfinding investment in signage.
• Greater Easton Development Partnership: $50,000 for a façade improvement program in collaboration with the Easton Main Street Initiative to be awarded to property and business owners in the form of matching grants for renovations, restorations, and repairs to existing building façade, and new signage, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• Shamokin: $50,000 for a façade improvement program in collaboration with the Shamokin Redevelopment Authority, benefiting at least ten storefronts.
• City of Philadelphia: $250,000 for renovations to the Happy Hollow playground at the Happy Hollow Recreation Center in Germantown, to address the failing conditions of the playground and to restructure its layout, install new site furnishings and lighting, replace equipment, purchase and install safety surface material and new outdoor fitness equipment.
• South Street Headhouse District: $11,549 for professional services that will collect and analyze data related to the area’s Business Improvement District (BID) activities and design a website to promote those activities.
• Tamaqua: $25,000 to obtain a professional consultant to complete a community and economic development plan that engages the community in the planning process and creates positive connections within it.
• Susquehanna County Housing/Redevelopment Authority: $388,500 for the first phase of a construction project that includes environmental remediation, demolition of a blighted former school building, asbestos removal, underground storage tank removal, site preparation, and construction of a duplex housing unit for individuals 55 and older in Hallstead.
• Oil City: $50,000 to continue collaborative efforts with Oil City Main Street in the implementation of a façade improvement program in the designated Keystone Main Street area, enhancing storefronts, expanding potential for job retention and creation, increasing pride in the community, and enriching the overall viability of the business corridor for up to ten properties.
• National Road Heritage Corridor: $115,000 to identify design and planning projects in collaboration with the City of Monongahela that will create an attractive gateway and pedestrian-friendly walkway to the Monongahela River, including installation of ADA accessible curbing and sidewalks, new light posts and trees, signage, and public art for the arch at the Second and Railroad Streets intersection.
• Redevelopment Authority of Westmoreland County: $150,000 to support the Westmoreland County Homeownership Program in providing accessible housing services including accessibility modifications like ramps, stair lifts, and entrance door modifications to allow individuals to stay in their home.
$5 Million for Community Revitalization Partnerships
Less than two weeks earlier, on December 18, Governor announced the approval of $4.75 million in funding through the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), to promote community participation and collaborations among nonprofits, businesses, and residents while producing outcomes that assist a distressed area or the low-income population in a neighborhood. The credits will support 17 community revitalization projects across the commonwealth.
“The Neighborhood Assistance Program demonstrates the value of public-private cooperation in ensuring the health of our communities, and the benefits that Pennsylvanians see through these partnerships,” said Gov. Wolf. “The continually-strong applicant pool and participation levels of this program demonstrate both its demand and the importance of the positive impacts it creates across the commonwealth.”
NAP encourages private sector investment into projects that will help improve distressed communities by providing tax credits to businesses that donate capital to support projects that address neighborhood and community problems. NAP can be used for projects in categories including affordable housing, community services, crime prevention, education, job training, charitable food, blight, special population issues, veteran’s initiatives, and long-term community revitalization.
This funding will support:
- Five community investments in the southeast region in Coatesville, Chester, Bucks, and Philadelphia counties. One approved project in Chester County will address deterioration and neglect in the commercial district of Coatesville will develop a revitalization strategy to remove or rehabilitate 50 percent of the blighted properties within the district, distribute façade grants resulting in the improvement of 10 percent of the properties in the core, and construct at least 100,000 square feet of quality residential space over the six-year implementation plan.
- One community investment in the central region, which will help the Central PA Food Bank combat food insecurity by utilizing mobile food pantries throughout central Pennsylvania to families, children, seniors, and veterans. The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank expects to serve 130 sites, distribute 8.6 million pounds of nutritious food, provide 3.7 million pounds of fresh produce, and reach nearly 35,000 people.
- Four community investments in the southwest region in Allegheny, Altoona, Armstrong, Beaver, Blair, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Somerset, and Washington counties. One approved project in Allegheny County will assist low-income homeowners who lack the resources to maintain and repair their homes. By working together with social service providers, the program enhances the quality of life for low-income residents through renovations and modifications to their homes as well as through energy efficiency improvements that save money.Two community investments in the northeast region in Lackawanna County.
- One approved project in Scranton will enhance the business district of the Cedar Avenue corridor by creating an incubator for small businesses, offering entrepreneurship and leadership skills to the immigrant community, and expanding the community farmers market.
- Two community investments in the northwest region in Cameron, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Venango, and Warren counties. One approved project in Erie County will provide micro-grants to homeowners to complete façade repairs and tear down blighted properties. The project will also install bus shelters, turn vacant lots into greenspaces, and install public art within the neighborhood.
Three community investments in the Lehigh Valley region in Lehigh and Northampton counties. One approved project in Lehigh County will address blight in the poorest neighborhood in the Lehigh Valley by developing eight units of affordable housing for both rental and resale, serving about 32 low-income individuals. The construction will be performed by the apprentices of the YouthBuild program, hired and trained from the neighborhood.
The new approvals raise the total amount of funding under the Wolf Administration to nearly $102 million in NAP funding supporting 694 projects statewide. The investment will result in more than $15.7 million in additional funds leveraged through corporate contributions.
“Pennsylvanians take great pride in their communities, and the Neighborhood Assistance Program is a way to encourage public-private partnerships to improve the neighborhoods we all call home,” said Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin. “From improving community health to combating food insecurity, renovating properties and addressing blight, these projects will improve the quality of life in communities across the commonwealth.”
The program has five main components: The Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP), Special Program Priorities (SPP), the Neighborhood Partnership Program (NPP), the Charitable Food Program (CFP), and the Enterprise Zone Program (EZP). A description of each of these components is available within the NAP fact sheet.
Photo of Lincoln Highway in downtown Coatesville is by Dough4872 via Wikipedia.