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Local native and former BMX rider Kris Bennett and crew to star in new HGTV pilot

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Curtesy of Lifespace Pittsburgh

Cameron Nicols, Jesse Wig, and Tara and Kris Bennett, all originally from Titusville, will star in the new HGTV series, ‘Steel City Rehab, which premiers Sunday, at noon.

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“Diving in headfirst” was the spirit that led Titusville native Kris Bennett throughout his BMX career, and it is the spirit that is taking him and fellow former locals into their latest venture — a renovation show on HGTV. 

The show, titled “Steel City Rehab” features Kris, wife Tara, and realtor Jesse Wig, and project manager Cameron Nicols looking for a home to renovate in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Friendship. 

Located east of downtown, Friendship is part of a handful of “hot” neighborhoods.

“It’s the quintessential move neighborhood,” Bennett commented on the area, adding “It’s a suburb in the city — but not quite.”

The four were first approached about doing a show in December 2015. 

From there, the team filmed a sizzle reel — or promotional trailer — in two days with Bodega Pictures and heard back from HGTV that the cable channel wanted to film a pilot. 

Wig, the team’s realtor, told the newspaper in an interview that HGTV had been looking for a new renovation show. “They liked our dynamic.”

In the pilot episode, Kris and Tara search for a home to renovate and sell — frequently called “flipping.”

“It’s been awesome,” Tara said about working on the show. 

The camera and sound crews, she noted, were easy to work with and were relaxed. 

“We’ve met a really cool group of people … It didn’t feel like work.” 

The crew started filming the pilot in June 2016 and wrapped up in October. 

While the show will be the Bennetts’ first foray into television, renovating homes and selling them is well-known territory. 

Kris first started his renovation career in 2008 after the collapse of the housing market. 

The decision came after collecting a check for his BMX riding and a friend advising him to get involved with renovations. 

“I just went for it,” Kris said. “I dove in head first.”

After starting their house-flipping business in 2009, the Bennetts moved to Titusville where they lived with their children for four years. 

There came a point, Tara explained, that the two realized they were both driving to Pittsburgh almost daily for work. 

In 2015, they moved to Pittsburgh and continue working on their business. 

But the couple hasn’t forgotten their roots.

“There’s a familiarity there … a comfort level,” Kris recalled about asking fellow natives Wig and Nicols to join in the venture. 

Kris and Nicols had known each other during their BMX days in the Queen City. 

“It’s awesome to see Titusville get behind the show,” Kris said. “We thank everyone in Titusville for their support. It’s overwhelming.”

The Steel City Rehab pilot airs Sunday, at noon, on HGTV.

Sample can be reached by email, at ssample@titusvilleherald.com.

1 image

Curtesy of Lifespace Pittsburgh

Cameron Nicols, Jesse Wig, and Tara and Kris Bennett, all originally from Titusville, will star in the new HGTV series, ‘Steel City Rehab, which premiers Sunday, at noon.