By Elizabeth Perry
The former Volante’s building at 923 Fifth Ave. in downtown Coraopolis is becoming the new home of the Coraopolis Community Development Corporation.
The new building will house the CCDC offices, Coraopolis Food Pantry, and the Weekend Snack Pack Program which benefits students at the Cornell School District and students in the MoonCrest Program. The Cory’s Closet Shop, a program which sets up children with new clothing, will also be located there.
Amy Cavicchia, director of programs and community engagement, said the move was a stipulation of the six-year grant through the state-funded Neighborhood Partnership Program.
The Snack Pack Program is moving mid-September, and the offices are already in place, but the food pantry will remain at the old location until the new space passes muster with the health inspector.
“It used to be Anthony’s Produce, we have no doubt it will pass inspection,” Cavicchia said.
Initially, the organization had planned to construct a new building, but the costs proved to be prohibitive. The new building on 5th Avenue was desirable because it was move-in ready.
The organization rented its prior space. At a price of $700,000, the CCDC now owns the 5th Avenue building. Cavicchia said the annual mortgage will be $200,000 per year, which will be paid for by the NPP grant.
The former Volante’s building currently houses Judge Michele Santicola’s office and Chip’s Barber Shop, along with two tenants who live in apartments above the storefronts. Randon Willard, executive director, said the businesses will pay rent to the CCDC, which will create a sustainable revenue stream for the organization.
Willard said they planned to paint, redo the floors and revamp ceiling tiles to make sure everything was “clean.” There is also a plan to transform one of the larger coolers into the new pantry, complete with a drive-up window.
“I’m doing most of (the renovations) myself and with the help of volunteers,” Willard said.
Cavicchia said the CCDC hopes to have an Open House on Dec. 2, which is traditionally Christmas in Coraopolis.
There’s just a lot happening in town that day,” Cavicchia said.
In addition to the cookie walk and other holiday events, they’re planning to show off the inside of the building from 4 to 8 p.m.
Willard said they chose the space because it’s in the heart of town, there is enough space for their plans, and there is a parking lot which will help patrons of the food bank and alleviate traffic.
Traditionally, the organization has worked to address food insecurity in Coraopolis and to encourage economic development, by holding festivals, attracting businesses and helping to fund the Coraopolis Train Station restoration project.
Willard said the train station project is on hold until an environmental review is completed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. His best guess was that the approvals would come through in the fall.
Willard said with the new building they’d be “bridging the gap” between the twin missions of addressing poverty and creating economic development. They want to provide jobs and job training in order to help support people long term. Creating a marketing campaign to promote Coraopolis is also in the works, as well as another mural. The CCDC has already paid for two murals in Coraopolis, including the popular Coraopolis mural and the Cobblehaus mural.
“We want to make sure every area of this town makes us proud,” Willard said.