March 1, 2017 | Malcolm Johnstone
Harrisburg PA — Governor Tom Wolf has announced approval of a $200,000 Keystone grant-to-loan to support the redevelopment of the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory into the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center. The project is located in West Chester’s Business Improvement District (BID), a Keystone Main Street program designated by the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED). Funding will be used for the purchase and installation of specialized lighting, visual and audio equipment, and theatre seating.
“The Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center is quickly becoming a gem of West Chester’s business district,” said State Senator Andrew Dinniman, who assisted the group in acquiring the Armory from the state when the project began. “This funding is another incentive to promote business development and drive economic growth while increasing opportunities for arts and entertainment – all factors that contribute to our excellent quality of life here in West Chester and Chester County.”
This particular grant is often referred to as an Anchor Building grant-to-loan which means that it will eventually be paid back to the Borough and then placed into a revolving loan fund. Such funds can then be re-loaned for community and economic development purposes within West Chester.
“This project is the fantastic result of neighbors bringing together a patchwork of community-improvement opportunities, residents and their passions to make something that the entire state has now recognized as an economic driver and sound investment in our region,” said State Representative Carolyn Comitta. “I could not be more proud of the project’s champions. Kudos to them.”
The West Chester National Guard Armory building was built in 1916 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It housed the National Guard’s Bravo Co., 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry and 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which traces its lineage directly to Benjamin Franklin, who formed the unit in 1747 to protect the colonies in the French and Indian War.
The theater is now called the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center. It is under the management of the UPTOWN! Entertainment Alliance, a non-profit organization promoting cultural, economic and civic life experiences in the community through live theater, music, dance, film and other local events.
“Governor Wolf and his administration encourage the creation of strategic partnerships between the public and private sectors throughout the state like the one here in West Chester’s Business Improvement District,” said DCED Secretary Dennis Davin. “By leveraging partnerships like these and providing funding through our programs like the Keystone Communities program, we are investing vital resources in the economic future of our communities.”
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