Photo by Anna Lee Fields.

While the city government and its partner organizations did well during the most recent round of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) funding from the state, Pittsburgh-based businesses and community groups also got in on the action.

18 local organizations received more than $15 million in RACP awards. While some of the projects are new, much of the funding will assist with developments that have long been championed by local representatives in the state legislature — many of whom welcomed the news.

“These state dollars will support and speed up progress on innovative projects that will help create jobs, attract investment and strengthen our region’s growing economy,” State Senator Wayne Fontana said in a press release. “I will continue to work closely with local officials and obtain state funds for worthy projects.”

Here are a few of the highlights:

The former Alvin Theatre (1891-1940), most recently a Bally gym, now slated to become a movie theater for the Downtown community. Courtesy of Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s movie theater

The Cultural Trust received $1 million to support turning the defunct Bally Total Fitness on Sixth Street Downtown into a six-screen, first-run movie theater. Demolition began earlier this year, and the theater expected to open in 2021.

Before its days as a gym, the structure housed a movie theater (see photo above) until 1940.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh earlier this year, Cultural Trust President & CEO Kevin McMahon said the finished project will include “lounge chair style seating, a state-of-the-art sound system and other amenities similar to high-industry movie theater standards.” That includes wine and beer at the concession counter.

Rendering courtesy of Contemporary Craft/GBBN.

Contemporary Craft’s expanded headquarters

Contemporary Craft received $500,000 for the ongoing redevelopment of its new headquarters in Upper Lawrenceville.

The 13,500-square-foot, two-story building will include a 1,164-square-foot retail area, a 2,539-square-foot gallery and exhibition space and a 1,711-square-foot classroom/studio area. Most of the space — more than 10,000 square feet — will be located on the first level, while the partial upper level will house offices that overlook the space below.

Anne Chen of GBBN, who has worked with Contemporary Craft over the years, is the architect. Project leaders estimate that the grand opening celebration will happen in March.

“Social and cultural institutions across America are feeling the squeeze of increased cost of real estate, while public funding for accessible arts and culture has been slashed,” Rep. Sara Innamorato, whose district includes Upper Lawrenceville, said a press release. “This public investment through RACP for a permanent home in a former industrial site for Contemporary Craft is a counterforce to the displacement that gentrification has had on our region’s residents, community-oriented institutions and service providers.”

Wigle Whiskey’s history museum 

The Strip District-based distillery Wigle Whiskey is set to receive $1 million to not only expand their existing location but to build an on-site Whiskey Rebellion museum.

In an interview with NEXT, co-owner Mark Meyer said construction will in no way disrupt ongoing fun at the distillery, and they anticipate having the entire space open to the public on October 1.

“By making these investments in small family-owned businesses, cultural institutions and redevelopment projects,” said Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, who represents the Strip, “we are encouraging private enterprises and organizations to continue to invest in our region, growing our economy and providing jobs to the hardworking people of Allegheny County.”

Other grants include:

-$1 million for the Brashear Hilltop Community Center to develop a new community center.

-$1.5 million to renovate the Centre Avenue YMCA as part of the Greater Hill District Master Plan.

-$2 million for the Produce Terminal redevelopment project in the Strip.

-$1 million to the Community College of Allegheny County for the school’s Faculty Innovation Center.

-$500,000 for the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Branch to renovate its first and second floors.

-$500,000 to redevelop the Stevens Elementary School into the Special Deployment Headquarters to enhance community policing in the West End.

-$500,000 to renovate a historic and currently vacant downtown/strip district industrial building to accommodate both office and retail amenities.

-$500,000 to renovate the Roberto Clemente Museum on Penn Avenue.

-$1,250,000 for The Frick Pittsburgh for major capital improvements.

-$500,000 to Renewal, Inc., to purchase and renovate a building on Third Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh to provide drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services.

-$1 million to renovate the Pittsburgh Musical Theater at 327 South Main Street.

-$1 million to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh to help finance the Museumlab project.

-$1 million to the Hill Community Development Corporation to restore the Granada Theater.

-$1 million to expand and improve parking access to Highmark Stadium in Station Square, home of the Riverhounds.

-$500,000 to construct a facility at 62nd Street and Butler Street in Lawrenceville for the Etna-based to manufacturer Forms and Surfaces.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.