Downtown Retail in Historic Buildings Loan Program
On October 11, we were delighted to join Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl at a press conference where he announced a $500,000 grant from the Colcom Foundation to Landmarks Community Capital Corporation, the non-profit lending subsidiary of PHLF, to assist in our Downtown restoration work.
In announcing the grant, John Rohe, vice president of Colcom, gave a thoughtful talk on how we anchor ourselves to our historic architectural fabric. He also discussed the importance of historic buildings in creating environments that are attractive to people.
With this grant, LCC President Michael Sriprasert announced the creation of the Downtown Retail in Historic Buildings Loan program.
As Michael noted, the Colcom grant fills a financing gap in the downtown restoration and retail development activity. Further, this funding can be utilized with other programs like the Paris to Pittsburgh program and the City’s Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Façade Restoration Loan program. Fund borrowers could be retailers or building owners. In addition, if borrowers agree to protect their storefronts and façades for a period of years, they can obtain loans at a reduced rate when they are not otherwise bank financeable.
Work associated with our ongoing partnership with the Mayor’s office and URA continues in Downtown Pittsburgh. Scaffolding is up on one building at the corner of Wood Street and Forbes Avenue (the ISDA Building), where our contractor has been plugging some 300 holes that were used for the bolts that anchored the yellow metal paneling into the original stone for the past quarter century.
In addition, there are three cast-iron-front buildings that we will fully restore on Wood Street across from the ISDA and Weldins buildings. We have already installed a new elevator shaft at the Thompson Building in Market Square as part of the ongoing restoration supported by an Allegheny County Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund grant.
John Valentine, executive director of the Downtown CDC, is leading the effort to identify potential women’s retailers to participate in the plan we have developed with Mayor Ravenstahl for the historic blocks of Wood Street between Fifth and Fourth Avenues. We have already identified over 24 excellent candidates from far and wide.
If you find yourself Downtown, take a walk on Wood Street, down Forbes to Market Square, along Market Street to Fifth and up Fifth to Wood, and you will see an enormous amount of restoration work. They are examples of the very best our organization brings to our community and include the preservation of our historic buildings and the harmonious planning of major new construction, like the PNC tower and the Piatt family’s Gardens at Market Square.
As you can see, the Colcom grant is a huge boost for our efforts and we are grateful to all of the Foundation’s trustees who are doing so much to re-energize our downtown through historic preservation.
Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation