Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announced funding for a number of state projects, including $2 million for restoring the Garden Theater building on North Avenue as part of recent efforts to restore the property.

“Pennsylvania has not been immune to the challenges of the national recession, but here in Allegheny County, we’re seeing a solid return on our investments in projects that create jobs and improve the quality of life,” Rendell said. “We’ve invested in this region and reinvigorated downtown Pittsburgh by building on our strengths—our workforce, some of the world’s best universities, and our talents in the creative economy,” Rendell said.

Recently, Pittsburgh was called a ‘model’ for other cities and been rated the nation’s 10th most livable city by Fortune Magazine.”

The Governor added that the commonwealth has invested more than $1.8 billion in Allegheny County since 2003 and now, its unemployment rate is more than a full percentage point lower than the statewide average.  The 12 projects for which Governor Rendell announced support today will receive $27 million through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, which will generate $476.8 million in total investment.

The properties currently being developed on Federal Street and North Avenue are split between several developers and community groups. The Garden Theater block is currently being looked at by Northside Tomorrow, a partnership between the Central Northside Neighborhood Council and the Northside Leadership Conference.

The projects and respective RACP grant amounts include:
• $2 million to help turn 300 acres of formerly strip-mined land in Findlay Township into the Chapman Commerce Center;
• $4 million for the Castle Shannon Transit Village project;
• $4 million to help build an 849-space parking garage as part of the $115 million Bakery Square project, in the city’s Larimer neighborhood;
• $3 million for the Lysle Boulevard mixed-use development to connect the nearby main public roadway with RIDC Industrial Center of McKeesport;
• $3 million to help build a new, nearly 43,000 square foot YMCA in Pittsburgh’s Hill District;
• $2.5 million for infrastructure improvements that will help continue progress on the Oak Hill mixed-income housing development in the Hill District;
• $2 million for traffic improvements in the East Liberty neighborhood;
• $2 million for infrastructure improvements and renovation costs associated with restoring the Garden Theater building in the Federal North redevelopment project;
• $1.5 million to continue developing the August Wilson Center for African American Culture;
• $1 million to help support renovation work that will transform George Westinghouse’s original air brake factory into a new home for the Pittsburgh Opera;
• $1 million to make needed improvements to Heinz Hall—the landmark home of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; and
• $1 million to convert the Monroeville ExpoMart into office space while transforming the former Wickes Furniture building into the new, 102,000 square foot convention center that will also house the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Monroeville.