City of Asylum receives second grant for GTB project


by Kelsey Shea

Another grant that will bring City of Asylum another step closer to anchoring the Garden Theater Block was announced this week.

The Central Northside literary organization received $250,000 from the Allegheny County Economic Development, Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund to fund machinery and equipment for Alphabet City, a new literary center planned to anchor the Garden Theater Block.

City of Asylum Co-founder and President Henry Reese said that while the grant will not accelerate the Alphabet City project, it will help ensure that it stays on schedule.

“We are gratefully to the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County for facilitating our project with this grant,” Reese said.

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

The CITF grant can be used fund major mechanical systems in the building, such as HVAC, as well as broadcast systems and other technological installations.

Reese also estimates that the redevelopment of Alphabet City will create 30 jobs ranging from construction to management.

The CITF grant was the second major grant awarded to City of Asylum in the last two months. At the end of May ArtPlace America awarded City of Asylum a $300,000 that will  fund a literary garden on the Monterey Street lot and a Garden-to-Garden Artway Connector that will connect two of COA’s Central Northside entities.

City of Asylum announced their plans to build a literary center on a triple lot on Monterey Street in early 2012, but this spring announced that they would relocated the project to the Garden Theater Block due to neighbors’ concerns about noise and parking.

For City of Asylum, the ArtPlace America grant and the CITF grant were  confirmation that the move was a positive one for all parties involved.

“We’ve seen nothing but tremendous enthusiasm,” said Reese. “It’s been a complete confirmation for us that this was right.”

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