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Facade Improvements, Parking Lot Planned in McDonald

Thursday, June 24, 2010

In the early 1900s, tax revenues from booming oil and coal industries funded construction of the buildings that make up McDonald’s business district to this day.

In more recent years, however, the advent of malls and other factors drew many customers away from town, but borough leaders are taking action to build on McDonald’s rich architectural heritage to attract more businesses and shoppers.

The borough is kicking off two revitalization efforts — a program to help downtown property owners improve their building facades and construction of a public parking lot for patrons of local businesses.

“There’s a big opportunity for the downtown area to thrive again, and that’s why we’re doing this,” said Tim Thomassy, head of borough council’s community development committee.

McDonald will offer $45,000 in matching grants to help owners and tenants of historically significant buildings make aesthetic storefront improvements, such as painting, pressure washing, adding awnings and replacing damaged structural materials. The amount of each grant will depend on the type of project and the total number of applications, Mr. Thomassy said.

Details of the grant program will be discussed at a public meeting at 7 p.m. today in the borough building, 151 School St.

The borough has invited the eligible owners of businesses and commercial properties that front North and South McDonald streets, between Robinson Run and the intersection with North Street, and also those that front East and West Lincoln avenues, between Station and Arabella streets.

To build a public parking lot, the borough this month is purchasing a $65,000 vacant parcel between East Barr and East O’Hara streets.

Once constructed in the fall, the parking lot will provide at least 50 spaces for shoppers, Mr. Thomassy said.

“The location is ideal because, with the façade program and other things we have going on, we’re trying to improve the downtown area so we can make it more enticing to bring new businesses into town, as well as improve the climate for existing businesses,” Mr. Thomassy said.

Both redevelopment programs are being funded partly by grants from Washington County’s share of gambling revenues.

The façade improvement program is financed with $30,000 from the gambling revenues, $13,000 from the borough and $2,000 from the McDonald Area Redevelopment Association, a nonprofit citizens group.

Purchase and construction of the parking lot will be covered by a $130,000 grant from the gambling revenues, plus $30,000 from the borough, $1,000 from MARA and a $105,000 grant from the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

A 2006 study of McDonald’s business climate, conducted by Pittsburgh consulting firm Mullin & Lonergan Associates Inc., recommended refurbishing buildings and creating a municipal parking lot.

McDonald’s business district has great potential to provide an alternative to malls and big-box stores for shoppers to come from North Fayette, South Fayette, Cecil and Mount Pleasant Township, Mr. Thomassy said.

He said McDonald’s location is attractive because it includes part of the Panhandle Trail and Route 980.

“We have a neat little town that needs sprucing up,” Mr. Thomassy said. “And if we do that, with the things that are going on around us — with the trail and the highway and all of that — we think we can really revive the downtown area.”

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633