Above: City Councilman Daniel Lavelle and MCC Executive Director LaShawn Burton-Faulk spoke at the ground breaking of 1301 and 1401 Columbus Avenue. (Photo by Renee Rosensteel)

by Kelsey Shea

Manchester Citizens Corporation is continuing to build positive momentum in a formerly troubled corridor with the redevelopment on two key buildings on Columbus Avenue.

MCC held a ribbon cutting on October 7, to mark the rehabilitation of 1301 and 1401 Columbus Avenue, which is part of the second phase of the Manchester Renaissance. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilman Daniel Lavelle were both in attendance.

One of two corner buildings slated for renovation.
One of two corner buildings slated for renovation.

“This project is a continuation of the strengthening of Columbus Avenue,” said MCC Executive Director LaShawn Burton-Faulk. “When you take critical, corner buildings like these and complete them, it shows that there is progress in this area.”

Several years ago, Columbus Avenue was identified as a weak sector of the Manchester neighborhood, which led to the renovations of several other homes along the street in the first phase of the Manchester Renaissance.

1401 and 1301 are near the renovated homes and several blocks down from the Columbus Square housing development, which is in the third phase of building 31 new homes along Columbus Avenue.

Work began this fall on the two late-1800s Victorian buildings, which will each house two market-rate apartments and one live/work space on the ground floors.

Project architect, Bob Bambach says both buildings were originally used for commercial space in the residential neighborhood.

“I think it will be really healthy for Manchester to bring some commercial buildings into the neighborhood,” said Bambach, who noted that most of Manchester’s commercial buildings were lost when the Beaver Avenue business district was leveled.

The total project cost is roughly $1 million. The Urban Redevelopment Authority, the Heinz Endowments, PNC Bank, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and TriState Bank will fund for the project.

Other critical partners include the Pittsburgh History, Landmarks Foundation and Landmarks Community Capital Corp. and the Alliance Group construction team.

Burton-Faulk anticipates that both buildings will be completed by summer 2014.