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Etna receives funding for commercial, residential redevelopment

| Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Etna has received two grants to revitalize its business district for commercial and residential use, according to borough Manager Mary Ellen Ramage.

The Heinz Endowments are providing the Etna Economic Development Corp. with $25,000. The money will be used by Etna's planning consultant, the Philadelphia-based Urban Partners, to develop a market analysis and action plan for commercial properties along Butler and Freeport streets. The borough and the corporation are each donating $2,500 to further the grant.

Ramage said the analysis will build upon the borough's needs identified in a comprehensive plan conducted with Sharpsburg and Millvale.

“The initial goal of the project is to identify, understand and share key market forces at work in the heart of the commercial district, identified in Etna's Comprehensive Plan as the Union District,” she said in a news release.

“We are grateful to The Heinz Endowments for this grant, which will enable us to work with the borough to facilitate positive redevelopment that matches the community's needs and the overall vision outlined in the Comprehensive Plan,” Councilman Peter Ramage said.

Mary Ellen Ramage said she receives weekly calls from people wanting to open businesses in Etna.

“You want to make sure that the kinds of businesses that go into the community are, you know, sustainable. So this is our way of saying, ‘OK, we know this boom is happening. Let's be prepared for it.'”

The second grant comes from the Local Government Academy, which provided Etna with $8,500 for a related market analysis. The Pittsburgh-based Palo Alto Partners is conducting a market analysis of residential units housed above empty storefronts in the business district.

“Some of them are just being used for storage. There's a lot of uncertainty about (zoning) code because they're older,” Mary Ellen Ramage said. “There's some really, really cool large apartments above the businesses in our business district because many of them go back to the ‘20s — they have the high ceilings and woodwork.”

She estimates a fall completion for the two market analyses. Thereafter, the corporation will need to review the findings and determine if more funding is needed for the next step in the revitalization process.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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