Economic Development South (EDS), the nonprofit organization headquartered in Brentwood Borough, has added the neighborhoods of Carrick and Overbrook to its growing list of municipalities that have partnered in order to foster a competitive and healthy business environment in a large chunk of Pittsburgh's South Hills area.
Carrick and Overbrook—officially part of Pittsburgh—join , and Brentwood boroughs—three municipalities that border the city—as EDS members. Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall also belong to the Brentwood-Baldwin-Whitehall Chamber of Commerce, but EDS has a purpose that extends beyond that affiliation.
As Baldwin-Whitehall Patch contributor in March 2011, EDS fills a role that, up until its launch in 2011, was shared by volunteers—primarily area business owners. The genesis for EDS was two studies completed in 2008 and 2010—one that examined 17 commercial districts in Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall, and another that looked at the Route 51 corridor, respectively.
(The Route 51 corridor, roughly speaking, extends south from the Route 51-Route 88 intersection in Overbrook to the Route 51 cloverleaf near the Bill Green Shopping Center in Pleasant Hills Borough, but there is no official definition of the corridor's size. Read more here.)
EDS Executive Director Greg Jones said that he has met with Pleasant Hills officials—and Jefferson Hills Borough officials (even further south) for that matter—but that neither Pleasant Hills nor Jefferson Hills has formally joined EDS.
Jones' position will be funded for his first two years through contributions from Brentwood, Baldwin and Whitehall; the Brentwood Business Owners Association; the Brentwood-Baldwin-Whitehall Chamber of Commerce; and various local politicians, Leone wrote in March.
Before Carrick and Overbrook came aboard, EDS had already made progress toward developing an along the Route 51 corridor, the purpose of which would be to consolidate and simplify existing zoning ordinances on that state road.
"I think that most businesses that choose not to invest here think the same thing: you don't know which direction things are going to go," Jones said in March in reference to potential new business owners sometimes having to satisfy multiple municipal regulations on just one relatively small land parcel. "So, if you're able to set that standard (a uniform regulations agreement between EDS partners), and if everything from this moment forward can address those standards ... all of a sudden, you have businesses saying, 'I like where this is headed.'"
Overbrook will be a big part of Route 51 corridor plans—as will Carrick to a lesser degree—and Carrick will be essential to improving the Sankey Avenue business district on Brownsville Road on the border of Carrick and Brentwood, where overlay regulations could also be made uniform.
"I think it's an interesting concept to have city neighborhoods and their organizations, such as the Carrick Community Council and Overbrook Community Council, working together with surrounding municipalities," said Brandon Dilla, a Carrick Community Council board member. "It doesn't seem to happen often enough, which is a shame.
"Disinvestment or redevelopment in the neighboring municipalities has an effect on the city neighborhoods of Carrick and Overbrook and vice versa. Municipality boundary lines don't necessarily exist in real life when one is walking or driving through a business district.
"Anything that brings multi-municipality governments and community groups together to focus on and solve similar issues will really help move south Pittsburgh forward in an innovative fashion."
Added Natalia Rudiak, a city councilwoman representing District 4, including Carrick and Overbrook, "This is a big step for Carrick and Overbrook, and it's a down payment on what will be a bright future for these neighborhoods and our region.
"All of the neighborhoods in the city that you hear about getting major redevelopments—that work starts with a strong, professional community development corporation, and we finally have that in our neighborhoods.
"I'm excited about the future and what we can learn from each other and accomplish together. This has been a long time coming."
Overlay districts aren't the only things that EDS has in its plans. Jones told Leone that he hopes to work on biking and pedestrian connectivity in EDS communities that will more effectively move people along various business districts. He also hopes to tackle a few greening projects, as well.
"Some of it is just connecting existing businesses with the resources that are already out there," he said.