DOWNTOWN… Is about to ROCK!

McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (MRCDC) is in the business of imagining and creating a vision, for a vibrant, compact downtown. In 2014, Environmental Planning & Design created a Lower Chartiers Main Street Revitalization Plan to address the many physical and policy issues confronting this diverse and dynamic community area. This Plan focuses on the portion of Chartiers Avenue between Stanhope Street and Island Avenue and aims to lay the foundation stones for realizing public and private realm improvements for the corridor’s turnaround.

After receiving support from the Design Center of Pittsburgh’s Design Fund Grant, MRCDC proceeded with downtown development planning efforts with an additional partner in Lami Grubb Architects team. The Chartiers Avenue Streetscape Plan emerged as a next step from the Lower Chartiers Main Street Revitalization Plan.

The Main Street plan completed a series of analyses including: base mapping, general thoughts on design, and a demographic market study. The Chartiers Avenue Streetscape Plan has built off of that broad view, is design focused by providing schematic level design for the streetscape, examines the structure of two iconic buildings, and includes a market analysis to offer a strategic guiding strategy for downtown development and turning it into a thriving commercial corridor.

Currently, the Chartiers Avenue downtown district boasts anchor businesses such as Grimes Furniture, Hollowood Music & Sound, and the Father Ryan Arts Center; a $4.2M state-of-the-art, 


multi-level facility providing unmatched resources in all facets of artistic education, enrichment and entertainment that opened as an initiative of MRCDC in 2008. In 2019, the MRCDC’s Roxian Theatre  redevelopment project opened as a 1,400+ capactity contemporary concert venue. With a $5.8M demand for full-service restaurants, the Chartiers Avenue business district has a very promising future.

In 2020, the MRCDC embarked on a large-scale community engagement initiative, with the intention of gaining insight into what the community’s priority goals are for the group’s downtown property holdings. This process included the use of online and in-person surveying, reaching out to nearby property and business owners, educational property development workshops, and ongoing conversations with residents, where they could propose ideas, voice concerns, learn the basics of property development and discover additional ways to get involved. 

Hundreds of community members and stakeholders were involved in this process, and as a result, five clear themes (community goals) for what makes a strong downtown were revealed: History and Context; Things to Do and Places to Go; Atmosphere; Healthy Economy; and Community Support. These themes were distilled into the Community Standards for Downtown Development for MRCDC-owned properties document and will be taken under consideration when developing the properties.


This project was funded through the Allegheny County Economic Development, Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF), overseen by the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County. The fund is intended to provide financial assistance to entities to facilitate economic development through the infrastructure assistance, stabilize or correct existing infrastructure problems, or plan and prepare sites and buildings for future use. It is administered by the Design Center through its Design Fund program.