MRCDC’s year in review: A look back at 2021

The Holiday Open House event held last month to welcome you to our new home at 701 Yunker Street in McKees Rocks was a rousing success.

In October, MRCDC moved to its new home inside the former Linder’s Furniture and Fine Rugs complex. As those of you who attended the open house saw, owner SSR Creative LLC (whom MRCDC introduced to the site) is doing a wonderful job with structural rehabilitation. Besides being home to MRCDC., artists from around the region gather in their workspaces here at Radiant Hall West. More units are and will become available for lease in the coming months. So if you or someone you know is interested in a new space, reach out and we will connect you!  

SPECIAL THANKS for helping to make the open house a success goes out to these area businesses: Abjuration Brew Co., Black Forge Coffee, Honest Abe’s Clean Homes, Love Rocks Cafe, Maria Tarquinio Charcuterie, Pretty Parties, Pizzani Pizza and SSR Creative.
People gathered to talk during the MRCDC Open House event in December.

Settling into a new home was the topper to a productive 2021:

  • Last year, much focus was spent on vacant property solutions by the MRCDC. In preparation for the implementation of more aggressive solutions to the issue, a vacant property task force now meets monthly and is compiling a database where the condition of all properties in McKees Rocks is recorded.
  • MRCDC-owned properties on Lower Chartiers Avenue are also being prepped for development and Phase 1 of the Streetscape plan there is moving forward. We surveyed residents asking what they would like to see on the downtown properties owned by MRCDC. The results have been published in a guide called the Community Standards for Downtown Development and will be used to steer upcoming development. 
  • A StoryMap focusing on the development of MRCDC-owned properties along Lower Chartiers Avenue and this “Transformation in Progress” was created and implemented into the homepage of by resident Chauncey Bigler.
  • A Real Estate Committee, composed of residents, local small business owners, and experienced community development and real estate professionals has been launched. The group will help to guide the development processes of these MRCDC-owned properties. 
George Dudash and Father Regis Ryan talk with Dr. William Repack and wife Diana Repack.
  • Fundraising for the approximately $2.3 million needed to clean out and shore up the former Bank of McKees Rocks building at 602 Chartiers Ave. continues. So far, $1.75 million toward the project has been granted and awards for other outstanding funding applications look promising. 
  • In a related move, MRCDC has added a member to its executive staff. Gina Beavers, who joined the team in November as the Director of Community Engagement, will be directly involved in the outreach related to the Hays Manor planning grant.
  • The MRCDC’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB) began 2021 as a conceptual program to work toward increasing youths’ interest and investment in their communities. MRCDC designed and implemented two programs to begin the process, one focused on photography and videography in collaboration with local recording studio BlackTea BrownSuga Network, and the other on writing and poetry workshops YAB will continue in 2022 focusing on helping youth to become civic leaders, increasing retention, and decreasing anti-social behaviors such as violence or crime.