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City Councilman Set To Announce Plans To Combat East Liberty Gentrification

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EAST LIBERTY (KDKA) -- With luxury apartment buildings and upscale stores, East Liberty is a neighborhood on the move -- but not for everyone.

While Pittsburgh's high-tech renaissance has been an economic shot in the arm, it's also driven up rents on minority-owned businesses and forced out many long-time residents. Since the razing of the Penn Plaza Apartments, the vacant lot has become ground zero in the fight over gentrification.

"Penn Plaza dislocated a lot of people, so we want to bring all those who were displaced, if they want to come home, [we want to] give them an opportunity to come home," Pittsburgh City Councilman Ricky Burgess said.

east liberty
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Burgess and members of the faith-based community are set to announce three new affordable housing projects as part of a new initiative to make East Liberty more inclusive.

"That's what our goal is, to make sure that it's an inclusive community for all of our residents, to make Pittsburgh the most livable city for all of us," Rev. Darryl Canady said.

Penn Avenue tells the tale. On one side are vacant storefronts and older businesses struggling to get by. The other side is lined with shiny new national brand stores catering to new moneyed clientele. Burgess is announcing new incentives for minority- and home-grown businesses to compete.

"We're going to create some publicly funded places that would have controlled rents where they could come in and be entrepreneurs," Burgess said.

Funding details are scant, but they'll be joined by the mayor Friday in also announcing a new citizen development review board to recommend future projects, to retain residents and bring some people back.

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