Thursday, December 5, 2013

Volunteer Opportunities

        Volunteers are requested to assist with two upcoming canvassing dates to administer the Sheraden Resident Survey. To date, surveys have been collected from over 180 households (which is a lot!), but about 90 more need to be collected for the information to be statistically representative of the focus area.

        Canvassing will occur this Saturday the 7th and next Saturday the 14th from 11 to 2 PM. Please let Steve Novotny, PCRG's Sheraden Community Coordinator, know if you are able to help on either date by emailing him at, or by calling 412-391-6732. It's a great opportunity to meet neighbors and to have a direct role in the ongoing revitalization efforts in Sheraden.

        Volunteers will meet in the parking lot in front of Langley near the memorial at 11 AM sharp for a brief training. All needed materials will be provided. Dress warm and bring some friends! Many hands lighten the load.

        This Friday brings the annual holiday kick-off festivities in Sheraden. Debbie Whitfield of the Kiwanis Club of Sheraden explains via Facebook:

"The Community Council and Kiwanis Club will host the annual Sheraden Shines night this coming Friday, the 6th. Lighting the tree (which looks amazing) and caroling, followed by refreshments, crafts for the kids, free books and a visit from Santa at the American Legion. Festivities begin at 6:00. Donations of non-perishable food items for the food bank and new toys for Toys for Tots will be collected. The event is free, bring you kids or grandkids and make some new Sheraden memories!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Changes in Sheraden Station

        The area known to long time residents as Sheraden Station changed a bit over the weekend. Holiday decorations were put in place, including a large tree in front of Langley School. The Sheraden Community Council and Kiwanis Club work every year to create a festive atmosphere in the neighborhood.

        Directly across the street, demolition of the commercial structure at 2912 Sheraden Blvd began as part of the Family Dollar redevelopment of the former Sheraden grocery store. The building was home to several businesses over the years, but most notably a barbershop. It was acquired by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in March of 2011 for $35,500. The site is to be used for parking for the Family Dollar.

November 23, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sheraden in the News

Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto. Photo by Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette
        Sheraden has been getting some press lately. A Post-Gazette article published Tuesday highlighted recent remarks made by Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto at the annual meeting of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership. Peduto stressed the importance of the City administration working closely and supporting local non-profit and community organizations throughout Pittsburgh, especially in neighborhoods that have been left out of past revitalization efforts.

        Speaking about past collaborations involving public, private, and nonprofit partners, Peduto said "now we have to create a new model to see this transformation happen, so that places like Sheraden, and in Beltzhoover and in Manchester, those communities have an opportunity to be a part of this new economy as well."

        On Wednesday, Pop City highlighted ongoing efforts to revitalize Sheraden as part of PCRG's Reimagining Communities Initiative. Sheraden was selected as the initial community to benefit from the collaboration of PCRG, NeighborWorks Western PA, and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, and a partnership with the office of District 2 Councilperson Theresa Kail-Smith was established.

        This positive recognition of the neighborhood is a welcome sight to residents who feel that all too often,  Sheraden is unfairly depicted in an overtly negative way in the media.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


        It's been nearly a year and a half since the Reimagining Communities Initiative started its on the ground efforts in Sheraden. Much has been accomplished in this relatively short amount of time to lay the foundation for continued and future revitalization.

        Perhaps one of the more promising signs of positive change is the number of ordinary community residents who have stepped up to take a direct role in these efforts. Residents have assisted with collecting property condition information, administering Experience and Perception Surveys, have canvassed their streets to speak to their neighbors about getting involved, have attended many community meetings and events, and continue to exhibit unparallelled pride and commitment to Sheraden. Whether small or large, these individual actions will prove to be critical to the success of any community development efforts.

         Here are a few of the highlights from the past 18 months in Sheraden, as well as a link to a recent Press Release about the program:

  • Over 1,000 properties surveyed for condition and vacancy by PCRG
  • Nearly 100 meetings with residents and contact with over 750 households by PCRG
  • 13 homeowners receiving assistance with needed home repairs by Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh
  • 7 properties acquired for rehab and resale to homeowners by Pittsburgh Housing Development Corporation
  • Over 80 families receiving financial counseling or foreclosure prevention assistance from NeighborWorks
  • Over 120 individuals attending public Financial Education Workshops by NeighborWorks
  • $400,000 in private investment secured by PCRG, NeighborWorks, and Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh to support their work in Sheraden

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pancakes! People! Sheraden!

Packed house for the Kiwanis Club's annual Fall Pancake Breakfast
The Kiwanis Club of Sheraden held their annual fall Pancake Breakfast this past Saturday at the American Legion. The event, which ran from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, experienced REALLY great turnout. Over 250 tickets were sold for a delicious breakfast served by a very friendly and helpful corp of young people from the community.

A silent auction was also held for various gift baskets. The morning provided a great opportunity for Sheraden residents, past and present, to spend time with each other and their families while raising funds for an important community organization. PCRG was grateful to be provided an opportunity to administer its Resident Experience Survey at the event and connect with many new and familiar faces.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pitt Students Make a Difference in Sheraden

Collecting Surveys
Saturday October 26th was the University of Pittsburgh's 6th annual Pitt Make A Difference Day. The event links over 3,000 student volunteers with a day of service projects in over 70 communities across the city.

Sheraden was lucky to receive 48 volunteers arriving in the morning by school bus. The students were divided into smaller groups and led by Sheraden residents to areas of the neighborhood in need of litter cleanup. A group of 10 opted to lend a hand engaging residents and administering a survey to learn about their experiences and perceptions of the neighborhood. They performed well, knocking on nearly 100 doors and getting 20 surveys completed in about 2 hours.
Don't trash my turf!

After a sunny morning of collecting surveys and a huge heap of litter, the students were treated to pizza and refreshments provided by Councilperson Theresa Kail-Smith's office. The day's activities were organized by the Sheraden Community Council and the Sheraden Kiwanis Club.

Relaxing in front of Langley

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Selling Sheraden

When you speak with Sheraden residents about what they like about their neighborhood, a few themes are often repeated; quality single family homes that are affordable, the convenient location between downtown and the booming airport corridor, and access to the West Busway.

 The graphic to the left is text pulled directly from the remarks real estate agents have provided for 18 homes that are currently listed for sale in the eastern section of Sheraden. Words that occur more frequently are displayed in larger font. For example, agents are currently using words like "new," "home," "parking," "porch," and "updated" as part of their sales pitch more often than others. Noticeably missing are the reasons that residents have cited for why they continue to call Sheraden their community of choice. There appears to be key attributes of Sheraden that aren't being highlighted in current marketing efforts.

Despite this disconnect, there are signs that housing values are starting to recover and stabilize. Two completely renovated homes have just hit the market, both priced at $95,000. Both are four bedroom and boast over 2,000 square feet of living space. The price point seems to be right on target, as recent sales within a few blocks have ranged from $73,000 to $123,000.

Located on Stafford and Bergman, these formerly vacant foreclosed homes are part of the URA and PHDC's ongoing rehab work in Sheraden and present a great opportunity to become a new homeowner in one of the region's most convenient and affordable communities. Inquiries from interested buyers can be directed to Lisa Baldwin of Coldwell Banker. She can be reached by phone at 412-605-9857 or by email at

This Zephyr home sold last month for $123,000
This Stafford home sold a month ago was a steal at $73,000

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sheraden Data Collection Project Almost Complete

Sheraden Data Collection Focus Area (Highlighted)
PCRG is nearing the end of a major data collection and resident outreach project in Sheraden called Success Measures. Over the past couple months, important information about property conditions has been observed and recorded for over 1,000 parcels within the targeted area, shown to the left. This data will be compared with information collected a year ago and will help inform ongoing strategies to revitalize the neighborhood's housing stock.
Random Household Sampling for Survey

In addition, a resident experience and perception survey has been administered to over 100 households so far within the same target area. Households were selected at random to ensure that the results are statistically representative of the population. The survey has been engaging a diverse range of people, from longtime homeowners to families new to the neighborhood who are renting. Residents seem really anxious to provide feedback and participate in these revitalization efforts. A growing number of residents have even volunteered their time to help collect surveys from their neighbors.

The goal of the project is to survey a total of 264 households. The results will be analyzed to identify the strengths of the community and any opportunities that need to be pursued and improved upon.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sheraden Property Owners Making Improvements

Walking around recently in Sheraden, one would have noticed obvious signs of improvements being made to several homes by their owners. Roof work was being done to a home on Zephyr. Craig, the homeowner, said he bought the house and moved to the neighborhood about five years ago, citing several reasons for his decision. "The neighborhood is very affordable and I couldn't pass the price up. Sheraden is also a very convenient location, close to shopping and not even 10 minutes to town."

On Sheraden Blvd. across from Langley School, insulation was being installed in a well-kept brick house. The 1,300 square foot home built in 1929 will certainly see increased energy efficiency following the improvements, lowering utility costs while increasing property values. These two owner-initiated projects are reflective of the overall revitalization currently occurring in Sheraden. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sheraden Homes Receiving Some Needed TLC

Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh has been busy recently in Sheraden, fixing up homes owned by disabled or elderly residents. This home on Hunt Street (shown on the left) received a new handicap-accessible ramp and walkway constructed by the organization's volunteers.The home was one of 4 in Sheraden to receive upgrades and repairs as part of FedEx Cares Week.

“We had 55 employees from our Moon Township headquarters volunteering as part of the FedEx Cares Week that was held in 40 cities across the country and involving thousands of employees” said company spokesman David Westrick. “Being a good corporate citizen is a part of our culture at FedEx Ground and is often on display through various employee volunteer projects in the Pittsburgh area.”

Below are more photos of the event in Sheraden. Visit Rebuilding Together's website for information on applying for home repair assistance in Sheraden.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pittsburgh's Top Safety Officials Address Sheraden Residents and their Concerns

A contingent of the city's top safety officials, including Director of Public Safety Mike Huss and acting Chief of Police Regina McDonald (a Sheraden resident), were in attendance at this month's general meeting of the Sheraden Community Council.

Community Council President Marilyn Gerthoffer and District 2 City Councilperson Theresa Kail-Smith requested that the officials address the community following a shooting that occurred last week in Sheraden. Law enforcement was able to quickly make an arrest just hours after the incident occurred. The group of about 40 residents were updated on the case and had the opportunity to voice additional safety concerns related to suspected drug activity and repeated violations.

Zone 6 Community Relations officer Kenneth Stevwing spoke about Pittsburgh's Disruptive Property Ordinance and how it is one tool that is being used to address problem properties that are the site of recurring violations to local and state laws. All officials stressed the importance of community involvement and calling 911 to report suspected criminal activity. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Residents Helping to Make Sheraden Safer

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review highlighted efforts to address neighborhood tenants involved in drug activity. Sheraden resident Gary Neely was quoted, saying he believes the problem has decreased where he lives and credits Pittsburgh police, who increased patrols, and residents who stepped up to report criminal activity.

The successful eviction of problem tenants through actions of the city-county Nuisance Property Task Force highlights the effective, and necessary, role that residents have in making their communities safer. Speak up and get involved!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Foreclosure Prevention Workshop

NeighborWorks Western PA is hosting a very important workshop on Foreclosure Prevention where valuable information will be given to assist homeowners keep their homes.

If you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments, are currently facing foreclosure, have or are considering a second or reverse mortgage, or have general questions about working with your lender, you need to attend!

This workshop is FREE and open to all West Pittsburgh residents.

The event takes place Thursday, July 18, at the American Legion Langley Post 496, located at 2863 Chartiers Ave in Sheraden, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Pizza and refreshments will be provided.

Please call 412-281-9773 to register or for more information.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Community-Driven Safety Initiatives

The following is an account of the most recent Safe Neighborhoods Network meeting by Sheraden resident Greg Hancock.
The evening of June 27th, I was able to attend the Safe Neighborhoods Network meeting held at PCRG's Centre Avenenue office in the Hill District. Andy Quayle, a dispatcher from the Munhall Police Department, spoke about how they are getting residents involved in their community through online social networking, primarily Facebook. They are having great success with residents contributing to the site and have two officers on staff that are responsible for updating the site continuously. There is a page that shows at a glance all reported crime stats for the month, as well as predators that live in the neighborhood, including their photo, name and address. Most of the posted comments are upbeat and positive. The MPD does use this site to harvest information to help with ongoing investigations and the sort. It would be nice if a similar tool could be developed for Sheraden.

Rebekkah Ranallo from Oakland Planning and Development Corporation was also on hand to talk about Oakwatch, a community-based code enforcement project where residents work with Pittsburgh's Bureau of Building Inspection (BBI) as well as the mayors 311 contact line. They identify and prioritize housing and property violations. By being in the neighborhood, they can keep a constant eye on the progress of how the city is dealing with bringing resolution to these violations. They harvest a great deal of data which helps to streamline the process, from citations to the property owners and court dates, expediting clean-up and code violation rehab. They are also represented in numbers at the court proceedings to give testimony. Once again, there is power in numbers! They group properties by violation and then grade them from the worst offenders to the lesser. They always perform outreach to the property owner prior to any official actions being taken. This process is not to harass, but to inform the property owner about what they need to do in order to avoid citations or fines. This is another great idea for Sheraden to adopt. As we all know, Oakland is a standout community when it comes to the overall appearance. And remember, along with a beautiful community comes higher property values.

The 311 web address is: https//
If you use this method to inform the city of violations, you will get an auto response email from the city with the confirmation/tracking number for the complaint. This number can be used to track the city's progress on bringing about resolution to the complaint.

Last but not least, a representative from CeaseFirePA was in attendance to inform us about their next community gathering entitled "Killing Gun Violence: Taking Back Our Communities One Action at a Time." The event is being held to discuss and act upon community-based legislative strategies to end gun violence This will be held on Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013 from 6:30-8:00 pm, at the Limbach Community Center located at 816 Tripoli Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Everyone is encouraged to attend. The Safe Neighborhoods Network had Ron Conroy from CeaseFirePA in to speak a month or so ago at PCRG. They are a wealth of information and give citizens hope in curbing gun-related violence in our neighborhoods. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Speak up for Sheraden!

About a week ago, 440 randomly selected households received a postcard inviting them to participate in an important resident survey. The project, called Success Measures, will gather information about the experiences and perceptions of Sheraden residents, helping to inform ongoing revitalization efforts taking place there.

The survey is being focused on the eastern section of the neighborhood, between Sheraden Park and the hillside along Carson. Since addresses were selected at random, the results of the completed surveys will be statistically representative of that entire focus area within the neighborhood.

Success Measures is a highly respected program of NeighborWorks America. It's mission is "to provide the community development field with a practical, credible and accessible way to collect, analyze, and use data for continuous evaluative learning, to tell stories of change and to demonstrate results. Success Measures develops and delivers outcome measurement tools and services through state of the art mechanisms that have the potential to bring participatory evaluation to scale, enhance local capacity and inform equitable, sustainable community strategies."

The Reimagining Sheraden team is very excited that Sheraden was chosen as the first community in Pittsburgh to benefit from the Success Measures program. In addition to the resident input survey, a comprehensive property inventory will be conducted in the same focus area, building off of a vacant property survey conducted by neighborhood residents and PCRG a year ago. Much of this information will be used to develop and inform ongoing strategies to address the vacancy and blight challenges in Sheraden.

If you would like more information about the project, please contact Steve Novotny, PCRG's Sheraden Community Coordinator, at 412.391.6732, or by email at

Monday, June 10, 2013

Summer in Sheraden

The warmer weather is giving residents the opportunity to get outside and spruce up their neighborhood. Many homeowners have their flower and vegetable gardens planted and landscaped.

Recently, a group of about 20 residents led by the Kiwanis Club of Sheraden, in partnership with the Sheraden Community Council and the American Legion Langley Post 496, spent some time brightening up the war memorial and parking lot below Langley School.
Newly planted and mulched!

They washed the monument and community message board, installed a new cement walkway, flowerbed, and large ceramic planters, and planted flowers. Mo, one of the main organizers of the effort, said that the improvements were their way of "giving our veterans the recognition and gratitude that they deserve. We are blessed to have a community that always takes the time to participate in projects like this."

The project was funded with a $1,000 grant under Mayor Ravenstahl's Love Your Block Program, an initiative of the servePGH program. Applications for Fall 2013 projects are due June 14!

Click to see more photos of the project below.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Redevelopment Proposed for Sheraden Parks

The draft plan of OpenSpacePGH, the City’s open space, parks and recreation planning effort, is now available for review and comment until June 7. Paper copies are also available at all Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations. The draft plan represents public input from nearly 3,000 residents and experts in the field, including PCRG. OpenSpacePGH is part of PlanPGH, the City's 25-year comprehensive growth plan, which includes 12 components and is projected to be completed in 2015.

In addition to being able to comment online, there are 4 remaining public meetings scheduled throughout the City. The final public meetings – which are free and open to the public – will educate residents on the findings of the draft plan, and inform them about how they can use the plan to help create change in their neighborhoods. Residents are also encouraged to share ideas about how to best set priorities for open space programs in various neighborhoods across the city.

The DRAFT OpenSpacePGH Plan proposes Greenway expansion
Sheraden residents should take note, as major proposals for the neighborhood are outlined in the draft plan. Sheraden park is designated as a Signature Site. From the plan -

Signature sites are prioritized community parks with the greatest potential to fill gaps in the green premium, provide better and more diverse recreation experiences, and focus investment. Signature sites should receive a higher level of capital and maintenance funding than other community parks, have site-specific programming, and incorporate design features to highlight their specific identities. Regional scale recreation facilities can be targeted for signature community parks, as well as community scale recreation facilities.

This translates into proposed redevelopment and expansion of the park to connect it with McGonigle Park and the Skate Park, the development of a new park Master Plan, and an evaluation and overhaul of park facilities. It is estimated that this potential investment into the park will exceed $8 million.

The Plan also discusses Mutual Park, recommending possible relocation to better serve Crafton Heights residents be considered before planning for any future investment. Designation of a significant portion of vacant hillside property in Sheraden as Greenway is also proposed.

All interested Sheraden residents are highly encouraged to participate in this important planning process, as these documents will directly impact community development in your neighborhood for the next 25 years! Please take some time to read through the draft plan and enter comments and feedback.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Enduring Community Assets

Looking down Ashlyn from Sherwood, 1908
Same view, 2013

The above left photo was taken by the Pittsburgh Public Works Department in 1908 at the intersection of Ashlyn and Sherwood. Only a couple of homes existed on Ashlyn then. The photo is part of the Pittsburgh City Photographer collection housed on the Historic Pittsburgh website, linked above. There are many similar photos of Sheraden intersections from this time, as it appears a lot of infrastructure was being constructed, like sewers and paved streets. The photo on the right is the same view today, 105 years later.

In the left of the photos you can see an old, wood-framed church building (the oldest in Sheraden). It's housed several different congregations over the years and is currently the Pneuma Center for Biblical Guidance. The church leadership has generously provided office space for both NeighborWorks and Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, allowing these agencies to have a consistent physical presence in the Sheraden community while they work towards its revitalization.

It also gives residents free and convenient access to important services right in their own neighborhood, like homeownership counseling, foreclosure prevention and mitigation, and credit repair. To schedule a free consultation with a trained and federally certified housing counselor in Sheraden, please contact NeighborWorks at 412.281.9773.

It's really neat to think that this little wood building is still functioning as a community asset after all these years!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Sheraden in 1977

In 1977, the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Alliance (a coalition of neighborhood organizations formed in 1969 and no longer in existence), spearheaded a project aimed at gathering important community information and feedback. The result was the release of a document called the Pittsburgh Neighborhood Atlas.

1977 Sheraden Neighborhood Boundaries, defined by residents

It's notable for using resident input to define Pittsburgh's neighborhood boundaries and for laying the foundation of a neighborhood information system. Today, you can easily access all sorts of community information online through the Pittsburgh Neighborhood and Community Information System (PNCIS).

You can read the Sheraden section of the 1977 Atlas to get an idea of how residents felt about their neighborhood nearly 40 years ago, when the top three issues of concern were poor roads, dog litter, and stray dogs.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Discover Sheraden

The Sheraden neighborhood has lots of great assets that the community is proud of. The map below depicts just a few of them, like the historic Langley School (modeled after Warwick Castle in England), the West Busway, the library and senior center, and even a skatepark!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sheraden Homeownership Fair

Nearly 50 residents attended the Sheraden Homeownership Fair held this past Sunday, April 14, at the Holy Innocents Parish gymnasium. Attendees were greeted with lots of valuable information, food (generously sponsored by councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith), and free giveaways (S&T Bank's foldable shopping bag and a miniature watering can and planter from Northwest Savings Bank were especially popular).

Short presentations were given by about a dozen event participants on a number of topics, from credit repair and foreclosure prevention, obtaining bank financing to purchase a home, working with realtors and contractors, to saving money on your monthly energy bills.

Local community organizations were also present, like the Kiwanis Club of Sheraden (they brought cookies!), the Sheraden Community Council, the West End Alliance, and the West End Works Neighborhood Employment Center. CAPture Production Studios was on hand to showcase a series of commercials highlighting each District 2 neighborhood.

The 2 hour event served to provide a strong starting point for families wanting to become Sheraden homeowners and generated lots of positive conversations about the continuing revitalization of this West Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended and participated for making this event a great success!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kickin' it For Recovery

Sheraden Park will be the site of the first ever Kickball Classic, a fundraising event for Peoples Oakland.

Registration is due on April 12, so hurry up and get a team of 7 or more together! You can also sign up as an individual and join another team.

For more info, contact Amanda Brinson ( or Heather Liebherr (

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Young leader steps up in Sheraden

One of the neighborhood's young residents has been getting a lot of positive attention recently for taking action to clean up his street.

In a post by Post-Gazette reporter Diana Nelson-Jones on her City Walkabout blog, the efforts of 10 year-old Logan Byers was highlighted.

Nelson-Jones reports:

Logan Byers is a 10-year-old boy who was hit one day with a question that too many adults fail to ask themselves when they see a problem: “What can I do about this?”
It was litter that motivated him while playing outside one day last year.
Yesterday, Logan and eight other volunteers, some of them fellow Cub Scouts, inaugurated Zephyr Street as a Redd-Up Zone by spending part of the afternoon filling seven large garbage bags with litter. Logan and his “Litter League” will do litter sweeps on Zephyr four times a year with supplies of bags, gloves and other tools from the city. But Logan said he would probably organize more frequent clean-ups in between.
“All I wanted was to get help cleaning my street,” he said. But as many community advocates know, doing good has a tendency to start the ignition on doing more good.

Thanks Logan for setting a good example and actively taking part in Sheraden's revitalization!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting the work done in Sheraden

In only 10 months, the Reimagining Sheraden Partnership has made remarkable progress, laying the foundation for sustained neighborhood revitalization efforts!

Sheraden Successes, June 2012 to date:

  • Complete survey of the 2018 Census Tract for vacant properties and housing conditions
  • Comprehensive data collection related to property ownership, foreclosure filings, tax delinquency, and code enforcement actions
  • Consistent resident engagement, with nearly 50 meetings with individuals and contact with over 650 members of the community
  • Successful purchase by the URA of 5 vacant and foreclosed properties, with one rehabbed and sold to a new homeowner
  • Landlord Community Partnership agreement launched to create quality rental housing
  • 14 Public financial literacy workshops held by NeighborWorks, including nearly 40 youth participants
  • 11 Families trained for homeownership, and 5 families kept in their homes by stopping foreclosure
  • Repairs made to 5 owner-occupied homes by Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh

To continue the momentum that is building in Sheraden, PCRG has helped secure additional private investment so that the partnership can continue through May of 2014!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sheraden Development

This 1908 photo shows construction of the Sheraden Bridge (look at that man-power!). To the right you can see the Murphy building and straight ahead is the hill that Langley School now sits on. The photo, as well as other neat old documents, can be found online on the Historic Pittsburgh website, hosted by the University of Pittsburgh's Digital Research Library.

There you can also find some old maps that give a detailed snapshot of how the neighborhood was first developed. This plat map from 1896 depicts the early Sheraden street grid with its original names, as well as the initial property lines, some of which have owners listed (note William Sheraden's "Mansion"). What's especially interesting is that it also depicts the type of structures that were present at that time, like brick and stone buildings, wood frame buildings, stables and sheds, and greenhouses.

Back in those days, communities were largely planned and built by property owners and private developers. Now, most cities engage in a public planning process to determine future development and land uses. Right now, the City of Pittsburgh is in the midst of creating a comprehensive plan that addresses a wide variety of topics, like housing, open space, transportation, and urban design. Find out how you can take an active role in shaping the future of Sheraden by visiting the PlanPGH website!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Keeping Sheraden Safe

Recently a few Sheraden residents went out of their way to connect with neighborhood leaders from across the city to discuss ways to improve community safety.

In 2008, PCRG’s members expressed a need for resources to help them keep their neighborhoods safe. Responding to this neighborhood priority, PCRG has initiated the Safe Neighborhoods Network. Recognizing that crime is an issue that plagues all communities, and that the larger the network grows the more effective it is, Safe Neighborhoods is a free program open to leaders from all areas of Pittsburgh.

The meetings are a great way to learn about some of the best practices being used by the community to reduce crime across the city.

Sheraden resident Greg Hancock recounts the March 9 Safe Neighborhoods event:

"The guest speaker that morning was Robert Conroy from CeaseFirePA. In attendance were leaders representing various neighborhoods. The discussion focused mainly on gun control, like getting all hand guns registered and also how to get automatic/assault weapons off the streets. Bob was a wealth of knowledge and ideas on how we could start a grassroots movement to change gun laws in PA.

We also talked about how easy it is for anyone to get a non-permitted gun from any of the Gun and Knife shows that happen periodically in Pittsburgh. I found it amazing that any person could go from booth to booth at these events, purchasing parts for a hand gun, and then go home and order a firing pin on-line. The result: yet another non-permitted weapon on the street and, by law, it is legal to posses! The conversation moved to what it would take to have all the vendors at these shows licensed and require that every gun part to be permitted so that they could be tracked.
Law abiding citizens, such as myself, have all guns registered and permitted with the state.

Finally, we discussed the Mayor's "Block Watch in a Box" campaign to help residents keep an eye on their surroundings. I am hoping to find 6-8 other people in Sheraden that would be willing to take 1 week a month and keep an eye on the neighborhood. The best way to deter crime is to have a visual presence in the neighborhood.

All-in-all the meeting was a very positive experience.

I felt that the meeting brought us closer as a community and gave hope to overcoming the many challenges neighborhoods face on a regular basis. I look forward to the next meeting to get more insight and support as we move forward."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sheraden receives international visitors

Earlier today, PCRG hosted a group of 13 planning students and their professors visiting from the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany. Interested in learning about revitalization strategies being used in post-industrial American cities, the group braved the cold and wind and took a short walking tour of Sheraden. This allowed them to see first hand the efforts under way through PCRG's Reimagining Communities Initiative.

The group was visiting Pittsburgh by way of Youngstown, Ohio,  where they will be staying for two weeks to conduct a studio project that will provide initial ideas, information gathering, and best practice examples from the industrial Ruhr Valley region in Germany for the US 422 Corridor Study Area. They've also planned a similar day trip to Cleveland.

It was a lot of fun showing off some of the great things happening in Pittsburgh's neighborhoods to our new friends from Germany! They were especially impressed with Langley's architecture and the quality of some of the brick homes in the neighborhood.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Buy into Sheraden


Sheraden Homeownership Fair
Sunday, April 14
1pm to 3pm
Holy Innocents Parish Gymnasium
Ashlyn St. at Thornton St.

Learn about the organizations and programs working to help
existing and new homeowners in Sheraden.

Buying a house?
Selecting a realtor?
Securing financing with a bank?
Need help making home repairs?

Local experts will be on hand to answer your questions!


Free gifts and lunch for event attendees!
(while supplies last, first come first served)

For more information, please contact Steve Novotny from PCRG at or by phone at 412.391.6732.

Friday, March 15, 2013

History of Sheraden

William Sheraden and family in front of the original farmhouse, still standing today on Bergman St.
Photo taken sometime in the late 1800s (maybe)

Sheraden has a really neat history going back to the 1850s. Starting out as farmland and vineyards, it's hard to imagine what life in Sheraden was like before developing into the moderately dense Pittsburgh community it is today. Although if you happen to tour the neighborhood in the warmer months, remnants of this humble agricultural legacy is continued on today by many proud homeowners who tend to their thriving flower and vegetable gardens.

In 1995, residents Dede Palombini and Diane Smihal put together a remarkably comprehensive article detailing Sheraden's beginnings. Continue reading below for a bit of a history lesson!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Leading by Example

Last night was yet another example of how resilient the Sheraden community really is.

It seems like a simple action: invite a few familiar faces to your home for snacks and conversation. But it's actions like this that can transform a neighborhood into a community. The motivation was obvious. Who doesn't want to live near neighbors you know and trust?

Encouraged by the potential she sees in her neighborhood, Debra Bailey (a resident, homeowner, and executive board member of the newly formed West End Alliance) graciously opened up her living room to 3 other women serious about investing in Sheraden. Along with staff from NeighborWorks and PCRG, the next hour and a half was spent discussing everything from homeownership to personal finances to some of the challenges that exist in the neighborhood and how residents can start to address them.

When it comes to neighborhood revitalization, such simplicity is easily and often overlooked, but the leadership and initiative that Miss Debra showed last night is critical to such efforts.

As she puts it, "this is my home, and I'm NOT going anywhere!"
This is Sheraden's story - Leadership, Initiative, Dedication, Resilience.