Real estate consultants kick off Greensburg visit with tour of downtown properties

Jul. 10—Reimagining the potential of downtown Greensburg took another step forward Monday.

A group of national commercial real estate experts toured prominent vacant properties that long have bedeviled economic growth in the city's business district.

"They had some very general questions," said Greensburg Councilman Randy Finfrock, who met with the group Monday afternoon. "They're interested in, if we could do one thing, what would it be?"

Five of the properties they visited are on Main Street:

—The former Advance Furniture site at 225 S. Main

—The former Mellon Bank building at 1 N. Main

—The former Royer's store at 114 S. Main;

—The former PNC Bank building at 125 S. Main;

—A three-story building with first-floor retail space at 321 S. Main, opposite First Presbyterian Church.

Other stops included an office building at 211 S. Pennsylvania Ave. that once housed part of the Troutman's department store; and a vacant lot owned by the Westmoreland Land Bank at 127 S. Pennsylvania.

The six-member Counselors of Real Estate Consulting Corps. team of commercial property professionals also plans to meet with elected officials, community leaders and others to develop recommendations for revitalizing Greensburg's downtown. The team will provide a written report of its findings that can be incorporated in a master plan local officials intend to develop in the coming months.

Greensburg Community Development Corp. President Elsie Lampl expects results of the team's visit to help jump-start creation of the downtown master plan. She said Greensburg is "in a pivotal moment as it has recently adopted a new comprehensive plan known as Shape Greensburg and is now embarking on a joint effort with the GCDC to revitalize the Main Street corridor."

Greensburg is one of four locations across the country benefiting from the consulting service offered by nonprofit CRE. The effort is supported with funding through the National Association of Realtors' Transforming Neighborhoods program.

Finfrock said it is similar in many ways to the comprehensive plan many communities in southwestern Pennsylvania develop, a sort of guiding document that identifies development goals over a longer time frame.

"I think that's where this is going," Finfrock said.

In past efforts, CRE members have resolved a post-9/11 dispute between the developer of the World Trade Center and its insurers, led the privatization of U.S. Army housing and developed a multi-billion dollar, 10-year master plan for Philadelphia Public Schools.

"Creating a master plan gives us the opportunity for long-term viability for our downtown," Greensburg Councilman Gregory Mertz said. "I want this to be a success for our downtown business owners who invested their life's work in Greensburg."

Community members can visit to complete an online survey and provide input for the team's efforts. Wednesday is the target date for participants to complete the 5-minute survey.

"As a city of Greensburg resident, I am excited about the future of our city and look forward to the progress that will result from this initiative," Realtors association President Tracy Miscik said.

Greensburg Mayor Robert Bell said CRE members will give a presentation on their observations to council and staff Friday morning at The Grandeur Estate on Oakland Avenue.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff by email at or via Twitter .