Above: A COAP writers residence in the Central Northside.

by Kelsey Shea

A $100,000 Our Town grant from The National Endowment for the Arts will be the third major grant received by City of Asylum Pittsburgh this summer.

COAP, a Central Northside literary organization that harbors international writers and promotes free speech throughout the world, will use the grant to produce a series of community-based artist residencies at Alphabet City, a new literary center that will be the anchor of the Garden Theater Block.

The Our Town grants from the NEA support creative place making projects and are compatible with COAP’s mission.

“COAP’s placemaking strategy has been to engage our community by activating public streets, vacant lots, gardens, homes and community spaces,” said Henry Reese, COAP co-founder. “We will now activate it through Alphabet City as well.”

Alphabet City will be located in the Masonic Temple at 12 W. North Ave., and will include space for readings, community events and classes as well as spaces for a café and bookstore.

In June, COAP won a $250,000 grant from the Allegheny County Economic Development, Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund to fund machinery and equipment for Alphabet City.

In May, they also won a $300,000 grant from ArtPlace America to fund a literary garden on the Monterey Street lot and a Garden-to-Garden Artway Connector that will connect two of COAP’s Central Northside entities.