Published: Sunday, 13 December 2015 15:43
Written by Vincent Troia (Webmaster)
Coraopolis Train Station Area Concept Plan
Coraopolis Train Station Area
The Historic Train Station Structure is in dire need of stabilization. A wonderful example of Richardson Romanesque, the Coraopolis Station was built by the firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge, successors of Henry Hobson Richardson, and completed in about 1894.
The building was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 20, 1979. Its addition to the list announced by the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and at that time, the building was still owned by the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad and was occupied by an auto equipment dealer.
The train station and surrounding area could serve as community and a revived transit hub re-activating the historic train station and the surrounding area with mixed-uses and a transit center component served by Port Authority buses as well as potential Robert Morris University shuttle service linking the campus with downtown and the University’s Neville Island Athletic Complex could be the catalyst needed to reinvigorated the historic trains station as well as the blocks surrounding the building. Mill Street and 4th and 5th Avenues are the Center of the Downtown Mill Street and 4th Avenue is essentially the center of town. Streetscaping along 4th Avenue and Mill Street would reinforce the importance of this area as well as improve the visual image of the area. The Train Station is Hidden Located mid-block, behind several non-descript buildings hides the historic train station from the high traffic volumes along 4th Avenue (PA Route 51 northbound). Since 4th Avenue is a one-way roadway, the station is really only visible from 4th Street after one has passed it.
Fortunately, through the efforts of the Coraopolis 501c3 nonprofit Community Development Foundation, the station has been saved from what would have likely been inevitable demolition. The station was a means of transportation for once-bustling Coraopolis, which at one time housed three movie theaters and numerous dance clubs and other businesses. The station, which also carried military troops to and from their destinations for many years, has been closed since the mid-1980s. Years of exposure to the elements resulted in significant structural damage to the building. On Oct. 5, 2006, the train station was purchased for $45,000. The initial goal is to repair the building’s intricate slate roof which is in poor condition causing further interior deterioration.
Architectural and engineering studies have recently been completed and fundraising is beginning in earnest. The Coraopolis Community Development Foundation is in need of an estimated $1.4 million to completely renovate the building. In 2010, the station was chosen as the No. 1 preservation opportunity in the Pittsburgh area by the Young Preservationists of Pittsburgh, a group of local young people dedicated to the preservation of historic resources, economic development and regional revitalization. The plight of the station came to the forefront when it was included in the list of most endangered historic resources by Preservation Pennsylvania in its list of "Pennsylvania at Risk 2013."
Coraopolis is experiencing a renaissance by becoming a Bicycle Friendly Community through the efforts of the Ohio River Trail Council and its planned Ohio River Greenway Trail. A Bicycle Friendly Community welcomes bicyclists by providing safe accommodations for bicycling and encouraging people to bike for transportation and recreation. Making bicycling safe and convenient are keys to improving public health, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and improving quality of life. A Bicycling Friendly Business Disrtict attracts bike tourists, which is a wise economic strategy. According to the Great Allegheny Passage Economic Impact Study (Phase III: 2007-2008), bike tourism is on the rise, and bike tourists spend an average of $98/day in the trail communities and on lodgings.
The Coraopolis Foundation envisions the building housing a community and visitors center, museum, reading room, and a 75-seat café. The café would serve not only residents of Coraopolis and nearby communities, but runners and bicyclists along the Ohio River Greenway Trail, which is proposed to run on Third Avenue. Third Avenue is an unpaved street parallel to the active railroad tracks that runs through Coraopolis past the closed station. The trail, when built, would connect to the Montour Trail to the east.
Coraopolis Train Station Proposed Reuse Framework and Concept Plan
A reuse strategy for the historic train station and the surrounding brownfields area uses the economic redevelopment strategy developed by the Foundation for the building combined with concept of creating a strong student housing/college town concept building off of the growth of Robert Morris University. The concept creates a clustered redevelopment strategy for this critical block in center of the Borough based on the notion that a concentrated level of reinvestment in a small geographical area will ensure that the economic investment will have the greatest potential for creating a truly catalytic level of change.
The Coraopolis Train Station Reuse Concept Plan shows:
Restoring the historic P&LE train station to function as a community center, café and a multi-modal community transit center. As part of the restoration of the building, the proposed programmatic elements will be incorporated into the existing building’s envelope in a manner consistent with Department of Interior Standards for restoration. The interior space would serve as a community room with a small café that could operate both inside of the space and take advantage of courtyard created between the former platform area and the porte-cochère. The porte-cochère area could be enclosed with glass and serves as the all weather transit center waiting area.
The existing small restaurant buildings that are located in front of the historic train station at the intersection of 4th Avenue and Mill Street could be razed and new Coraopolis Town Green could be developed. This would expose the front of the historic train station to the traffic along 4th Avenue and also create a physical town center gather space for the Borough that could also become part of the branding of the town, using the space with the tower of the train station as key branding elements.
The former car dealership parking lot located mid-block on 4th Avenue could be redeveloped as a small mixed-use infill develop consisting of a three story 18,000 sq. ft. building with ground floor retail and 14 rental units on the upper floors. The building would be designed so it has frontage facing both 4th Avenue and the new town green. Parking for this building could be located on the nearby vacant lot located adjacent to the CSX railroad at Main Street.
Neville Avenue should be extended to Main Street as a public street to allow for support circulation for the new development as well as creating a through street for buses to turn off of 4th Avenue onto Mill and then continue to Main Street to re-access 4th Avenue at a signalized intersection.
A mixed-use infill building could be located across Mill Street from the historic train station on a vacant lot. This building could be approximately 8,000 sq. ft. and include 2,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail and eight residential units on three upper floors.
Relocation of the pre-fabricated garage serving the business in the freight station to a location on the Main Street side of the building to provide handicapped parking for the historic train station and remove this undesirable structure from its current location.
Source: Ohio River Brownfields Planning Project
Coraopolis Train Station Project Update
July 19, 2016. The Coraopolis Train Station was built in 1894 by Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. This station serviced passengers between Beaver County and Pittsburgh. Now the station is currently undergoing renovations to restore the station for new use. The station was purchased by the Coraopolis Community Development Foundation in 2006. The goal for the project is to restore the historic landmark and renovate the space into a multi-use facility for events and add a café. This station will serve the local community as well as users of the future Ohio River Trails as well as the Montour Trail.
The building once was one of the busiest stops on the rail line. Adjacent to the rail line was also a freight station that served as a shipping point for steel, glass, and agricultural supplies. The station has been vacant since the early 1980’s. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic places since 1978. The building was listed by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks foundation. In 2010, the Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh listed the building as one of their top ten preservation opportunities.
The estimated cost to restore the train station are between $900,000 and $1.2 million dollars. Phase one of the project consist of stabilization and weatherproofing the building to protect it from further damage from the outside elements. During this phase of the project, artifacts were found including, passenger ticket stubs, an Edison bulb, original architectural plans, and much more. Once the station is complete some of the artifacts will be on display for the public.
In July 2016, the Historic Coraopolis Trail Station Project has been awarded a $290,000 grant through the Allegheny Foundation to begin phase two of the project. Phase two consists of conceptual design and engineering, repairs to the exterior envelope, and finalizing roof repairs. Shawn Reed, the Project Chairman stated that, “We continue to believe that the station will be a centerpiece in the ongoing development of this great little town.”
For more information regarding this project, volunteering, or donating, please visit their website www.coraopolistrainstationproject.org/