Monday, August 12, 2013

City of Greensburg Health Care District Revitalization Plan

The purpose of the City of Greensburg Health Care District is to create a plan that promotes economic prosperity, increases private and public investment, protects the charm of neighborhoods, encourages growth of business, and enhances connectivity between downtown and key institutions.
The community envisions this district as a place for healthy living, personal wellness, scholarship, and neighborhood development to provide an ongoing stream of growth for the region.

Community input is the basis of the revitalization strategy.  In early June, meetings with meetings of residents, businesses, and property owners were held to start the process.  The comments, concerns, and suggestions collected during the meetings are noted on these maps. The remaining timeline for the project goes as follows:

Planning Phase III: Deciding
August               Draft Master Plan Document
September         Review of plan by City, GCDC, & Steering Committee
October 28th     Public Meeting #3 at 6pm, Greensburg Salem Middle School, Board Room

The community has developed the following objectives as a way to frame the planning process of the revitalization.
Health Care District Revitalization Plan Objectives:

  • Encourage public and private development

  •  Protect the residential character of specific blocks

  •  Maximize the potential of under-utilized buildings

  • Develop a parking plan for employees, patients, and visitors

  •  Enhance the street scape of the Gateway Overlay District

  •  Enhance the connectivity with Seton Hill University and Excela Westmoreland

The “Three Dot” exercise was introduced to the residents so that the consulting team could learn the thoughts of the residents and property owners. The participant placed a GREEN colored dot to indicate the “good” aspect of the neighborhood with RED color noting “bad” aspect and BLUE noting “opportunity for improvement”.  A large display of the “Dot Exercise” and some other informational panels are located in the storefront windows of the commercial building at 205 South Pennsylvania Ave.

Residents were given three GREEN dots to place on areas that they enjoyed within the study area. This could be a place for entertainment, a restaurant, the hospital, or even his or her home. After the dots were placed, residents had the chance to discuss their decisions. The most frequent dot locations are compiled below.

What do you like MOST about the area?

  •  Long-term, stable residents

  • Strong sense of pride in community heritage

  • Excela Hospital and surrounding health care facilities

  • Walkable and family friendly

  •  Close to downtown and cultural institutions, such as the courthouse, library, churches, YMCA, arts, music, and theater

  • Strong employment base
  • Services such as Mutual Aid Ambulance and No. 6 Firehouse
  •  Proximity to LECOM and Seton Hill
  • Existing local businesses (yoga, karate, tailor shop, Royal Pizza)
  • Good access from major highway along arterial
The same exercise was completed a second time, except this was to target what the residents disliked about the area. They were each given three RED dots to place on undesirable areas of the map. The following were the most abundant targets.

What do you like LEAST about the area?
  •  Drug trafficking and illegal activity
  • Absentee landlords
  •  Poorly maintained and vacant buildings
  • Dangerous streets (lack of sidewalks, speeding, one way streets)
  •  Confusing access from Route 30
  •  Neighborhood services have closed (shops, hotels, restaurants, bars, grocery, bakery)
  •   Parking issues
  •   Aging housing stock
  •   Topography creates accessibility problems
  • Railroad disconnects the district from Seton Hill
  •    Lack of parks and amenities
·         Approach through industrial district is not welcome
The exercise was performed for a third and final time. The residents were asked to place BLUE dots 
on spaces that held potential to become positive areas in the district. The results are listed below.

What OPPORTUNITIES do you see for this area?
  •  Create walkable destinations with neighborhood serving businesses
  • Encourage cooperation between “med’s and ed’s” to provide employment and lifetime opportunity
  • Grow and expand health services around Excela
  • Create more residential choices (for students, active adults, professionals, seniors, and moderate income)
  •  Create an urban, walkable neighborhood for all ages
  • Stabilize the neighborhood by addressing drugs and vacancies
  • Create a 24/7 environment that is vibrant and active
  • Address parking and access issues
  • Create financial incentives for revitalization
  • Break down barriers to improve accessibility and mobility
  •  Protect and restore historic houses and properties
  • Create inviting streetscapes and gateways
  •  Create a connection between Seton Hill and neighborhood
  • Create safe parks for walking, biking, and playgrounds.
After considering the input of the community, the consulting team came up with proposed revitalization strategies for each of the five districts within the plan. The following recommendations/improvements are expected for each area:

Point District:
  • Increase commercial redevelopment
  • Install and improve gateway signage and landscaping
  • Install pedestrian lights and trees and improve sidewalks along Pittsburgh and Otterman Streets

Arts District:
  • Asset- Palace Theater
  • Asset- SHU Performing Arts Center
  • Asset- SHU Dance and Visual Arts Center
  •  Promote new student housing opportunities
  •  Recruit art galleries and restaurants

Neighborhood Preservation District:

  •  Improve parks
  •  Target high crime areas
  •  Increase building code enforcement
  • Organize façade renovation programs
  • Target problem rental properties address traffic issues
  • Attract commercial uses in key areas to serve the neighborhoods

Depot District:
  •  Encourage student housing
  • Add mixed income housing to balance population
  • Secure senior housing
  • Create pedestrian and bike bridge connection to Seton Hill
  • Add office space for future tenants
  • Create a new neighborhood commercial center
  •  Develop a neighborhood square

Health Care District:
  •  Consolidate parking to free up land for new facilities
  • Improve sidewalks and crossings for pedestrians
  • Provide amenities that are accessible to the community
  • Improve streetscapes, landscapes and signage
  • Recruit health related businesses

The funding for the Health Care District Revitalization Strategy has been provided by the following companies, foundations and institutions.  We are very appreciative of their support and commitment to our community.
PNC Foundation
Excela Health System
Anonymous Donor
People’s Natural Gas
City of Greensburg
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Greensburg Community Development Corporation
PA Department of Community and Economic Development
Community Foundation of Westmoreland County- Westmoreland Now & Forever Fund

The next public meeting will occur on October 28th at 6pm. Residents of Greensburg are encouraged to attend, review the maps, and listen to a formal presentation from the consulting team. A location for the event has yet to be determined. Those interested in updates about the project and the meeting location should call City Hall Planning Department at (724) 838-4335 or email to receive an invitation.

Please leave your own questions, comments, or ideas on the ThinkGreensburg Facebook page, as a comment at the end of this blog post, or on under the contact section of the website.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

White Rabbit Cafe Moves in on Main Street

The White Rabbit Café & Patisserie will soon be added to the list of restaurants and businesses for residents to enjoy in downtown Greensburg. Located at 111 North Main Street, it is expected to be open sometime in August, just in time for back to school.

111 N. Main Prior to renovations.
Amber Kunselman, along with her business partner, Tommy Medley chose the City of Greensburg for their café for a number of reasons. Primarily, the high pedestrian and vehicle traffic along Main Street is essential to their marketing strategy.  PennDOT notes a daily traffic count of 11,000 cars passing the Courthouse on North Main Street.

“It is important that our business be accessible by walking traffic and visible to people driving through town. So a place filled with shopping plazas would not fit,” said Amber. 

Amber also noted that the architecture of the City, its central downtown, and its ability to stay small while being successful were all attractive attributes of Greensburg. 

Amber has added some color to the storefront.
The interior of the building needed to be transformed from a photography studio into a bakery and coffee shop.

“The building was previously Skysight Photography, but before that it was Lee’s Restaurant.   So, most of the storefront area was still designed for a café setting.  Building out the kitchen was the largest part of the project.” said Amber. 

Bright greens and pastel and creamy yellows will help to create the comfortable atmosphere that Amber envisions for the café. There will be a number of tables to relax at, along with a few lounging areas with couches. The café will also be a Wi-Fi hotspot, so students can enjoy the space as a different area to complete their studies. 
The renovations catch your eye from the street.

Amber, who completed the pastry program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and spent a few years as a pastry chef at hotels such as the Marriott and the Ritz Carlton, is expected to serve some delectable goodies at the White Rabbit Café. Tommy will be the in house barista, serving up specialty brews.