Vandergrift, PA (2009)

Client: Vandergrift Improvement Program (VIP)

  • Placemaking plan
  • Market Improvement Plan


An industrial town located outside of Pittsburgh, Vandergrift saw economic decline and population loss over the second half of the 20th century. Originally planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, the town has great character and beautiful historic homes but lacks a town square or central meeting place. Vandergrift has been working to revitalize its downtown in recent years. For the last five years, the VIP has hosted the weekly Vandergrift Farmers Market which has successfully attracted shoppers and helped support local farmers. The market is located in a parking lot adjacent to a small park and has the potential to act as the town square that Vandergrift has always needed. The VIP asked PPS to make recommendations on how the farmers market could solidify its future by attracting even more customers and vendors and increasing income for local farmers. Already a great community asset, the VIP wanted the market to become an even better gathering place for the Vandergrift community.

In order to gather information regarding the market’s operations and the interests of key local stakeholders, PPS facilitated a community workshop to help residents think about new ways to envision the market and other sites in downtown Vandergrift. PPS also met with the market’s various stakeholders including the Mayor of Vandergrift, local leaders and market vendors during the site visit.

PPS made a series of recommendations aimed at improving the market experience and increasing community use of the market and its surrounding areas. One of the key recommendations focused on improving the facilities for the market and the surrounding area by creating a new town square through integrating part of the parking lot with the neighboring park, which had recently been renamed Teeple Park in honor of a passed community leader. The parking lot would function as a flexible “plaza” while the park would become a green “oasis” for the town. In terms of the retail aspect of the market, improving the vendor mix and the product mix was recommended as a way to attract more people to the market. Also, the market can increase awareness about local food and farming through education and outreach on-site. By continuing to conduct customer surveys, vendors can more effectively understand the market’s customer base.

Only a few months after PPS’ work in Vandergrift, the number of vendors and activities has already increased at the market. With small infrastructural improvements and continued community commitment, the Vandergrift Farmers Market will be a downtown anchor for years to come.