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Residents asked to provide input on future development in Millvale

| Wednesday, July 23, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Members of the Millvale Borough Development Corporation are working with residents and architects to make plans for three properties the nonprofit group recently purchased, including 524 Grant Ave. at the corner of Grant and North Avenues, for the Millvale Town Square and Grange concept that includes bringing a food market to the borough.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Members of the Millvale Borough Development Corporation invited residents to provide input on a large borough map as part of discussions with architects to make plans for three properties the nonprofit group recently purchased at the corner of Grant and North Avenues for the Millvale Town Square and Grange concept that includes bringing a food market to the borough.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Members of the Millvale Borough Development Corporation invited residents to provide input on a large borough map as part of discussions with architects to make plans for three properties the nonprofit group recently purchased at the corner of Grant and North Avenues for the Millvale Town Square and Grange concept that includes bringing a food market to the borough.
Bethany Hofstetter | Shaler Journal
Members of the Millvale Borough Development Corporation are inviting residents to envision what they want to be housed in one of three properties the nonprofit group recently purchased, including 524 Grant Ave. at the corner of Grant and North Avenues, for the Millvale Town Square and Grange concept that includes bringing a food market to the borough.

Some Millvale residents say they hope a new community development initiative will bring a fresh food market to the borough.

Local officials and Millvale Borough Development Corporation representatives kicked off the Millvale Town Square and Grange project on July 14, with a community celebration and public meeting.

Residents talked to architects and planners about what they would like to see go into buildings at 524 Grant Ave. and 216 and 220 North Ave.

The development corporation purchased the three properties for the project.

“We have great business people here,” said Tina Walker, the corporation's president, adding that possibilities for the buildings are “endless.”

Initial plans are focused on turning 524 Grant Ave., formerly The Dinette Place, into a space known as the Millvale Grange.

The first floor of the building could provide access to food for the community, while the second floor could house shared business space.

“The grange — the building and concept — brings the community together around food-related issues,” said Christine Mondor, principal of evovleEA, a Friendship-based sustainable architecture and consulting firm that was hired to help design the project.

“Right now, we want to hear from the community about what they need, what there is a market for and what the building can hold.”

Another public meeting will be held in August, to talk about specific uses for each of the buildings, and a third meeting will be scheduled before the end of the year.

The Millvale Town Square and Grange project is part of the larger Millvale Pivot Plan, a community design process that will consider the sustainability of food, water and energy systems in Millvale.

The grange could include features ranging from local produce for sale to a space for classes on urban gardening.

The idea for the grange came out of discussions that followed a research report by Just Harvest, a South Side-based organization that works to reduce hunger.

The report identified Millvale as a food desert, or area where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain.

Sarah Kremer, 26, moved to Millvale from Kirksville, Mo., and said she has to drive her car to a Shop ‘n Save or Giant Eagle store 3 to 6 miles away to purchase groceries.

“I would like a place where people can get food or groceries,” said Kremer, who recently joined the development corporation's board.

“If it's something we can walk down the road (to), it would be fabulous.”

The development corporation received state money through the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and Public Improvement Grant program, which provided $500,000 each, as well as $300,000 from both the Heinz Endowments and Henry L. Hillman Foundation to acquire and redevelop the properties. The development corporation has budgeted about $1 million of the grant money to develop the grange.

Brian Wolovich, vice president of Millvale Council, is helping to coordinate aspects of the project and said the development corporation will solicit ideas and determine community resources and partnerships for the project at the future public meetings.

Organizers expect construction at 524 Grant Ave. to start by the end of 2014.

For more information, or to participate in the Millvale Town Square and Grange project, contact Eddie Figas, director of administrative services, at 412-821-2777 ext. 3136 or efigas@millvaleboro.com.

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or bhofstetter@tribweb.com.

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