Check out the new businesses and historic restorations fueling Wilkinsburg’s renaissance

Kristy Locklin | October 7, 2019 | City Design, Features, Wilkinsburg

When Tracey Evans looks at the Wilkinsburg Train Station, she doesn’t see it in its current, dilapidated state. She pictures what once was, and what soon will be.

Like much of the borough, this 104-year-old building is being restored to its former glory. When the $6.5 million construction project wraps up at the end of the year, the Beaux-Arts landmark will boast terrazzo and mosaic tile floors, polished stone pilasters and panels, a clock tower, all new utilities and restrooms, and 8,400 square feet of leasable space.

“It’s been vacant since 1965,” says Evans, executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation. “The WCDC has always considered its restoration a key goal for our Main Street revitalization.”

That revitalization is well underway.

The WCDC is actively seeking two tenants to occupy the renovated station building, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and located at the corner of Hay St. and Ross Ave.

Evans says the spot is perfect for a high-end restaurant or a brewery. (The formerly dry borough updated its antiquated liquor laws in 2015.) Both floors will be move-in ready by early 2020. (Business owners interested in a tour can contact Cameron Conroy of Avison Young.)

Funding for the project started with a $1 million contribution from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, followed by a grassroots capital campaign that raised more than $5 million — a sum that was $2 million over its initial goal. In just six months, the campaign received $175,000 in individual donations. An elderly man currently living in Arizona sends a $30 check every month to support his hometown.

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