August 3, 2015: Forty out of the 150 buildings in Wilkinsburg’s central business district are vacant, but borough officials are hoping that a new tool will help spur development in that distressed municipality.
Some of these properties have been vacant for a decade or two, according to Tracey Evans, executive director of the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC). She said on one block just one of the nine buildings is occupied.
“That’s a huge loss visually for people driving through the business district,” Evans said. “It looks blighted.”
The Wilkinsburg Borough Council and the school district have approved an enhanced tax abatement plan to lure new businesses or entice current building owners to spruce up their properties. According to Evans, 100 percent of the value of improvements will be tax exempt for five years and then the tax will be phased in over the next five years.