HERMITAGE — The city's efforts to develop a town center received a million-dollar boost Friday.

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Multimodal Transportation approved the $1.23 million grant for the development of a mixed-use town center.

Plans for the town center — a walkable mixed-use retail, residential and dining district at the current site of Shenango Valley Mall and the surrounding area — were included in the city's "Hermitage 2030" comprehensive plan. 

Hermitage Manager Gary Hinkson the multimodal transportation grant will promote infrastructure for vehicular, pedestrian or bicycle travel.

Depending on how plans for the town center take shape, the funds could be used for new roads, sidewalks and trails for foot traffic and bicycles, Hinkson said. Other uses could include curbs, stormwater drainage, landscaping and other improvements.

"Transportation facilities will be an important part of implementing the comp plan's city center vision," Hinkson said.

Including this latest grant, city officials have been able to secure about $5.5 million in grant funds for the town center project. Hinkson said the city is pursuing additional sources of funding before beginning work on the project, which is expected later this year.

"The Multimodal Transportation Program funded project will strengthen the foundation of the center city and create a central business corridor that will effectively move vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles through the town center," Assistant Manager Gary Gulla said.

Hermitage applied for the grant in November 2020. Hinkson said city officials had no details Friday about any deadlines to use the grant funds or when they would receive the funds.

Hinkson credited the working relationship between the city and state Sen. Michele Brooks and state Rep. Mark Longietti with securing the grant funds.

Longietti, D-7 Hermitage, said the project would create a regional hub in Hermitage, which would in turn attract commercial activity and visitors, create jobs, and provide new housing, recreational and entertainment options for the community.

"This project has the power to transform our region, and it's truly exciting seeing the work beginning to take shape from the ground up," Longietti said.

Brooks, R-50 Jamestown, said the town center project would add to the vibrancy, quality of life and economic growth of not just Hermitage, but Mercer County and surrounding communities.

"We continue to work in a coordinated, collaborative effort to give this project a strong foundation for growth and success, and I appreciate the partnership in working with Gary Gulla, Gary Hinkson and Rep. Longietti," Brooks said.

Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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