October has been a banner month for McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation (MRCDC) and the folks at the Roxian Theatre.
The month was filled with several recognitions and awards ceremonies which culminated in MRCDC and the Roxian Theatre ownership team being honored during the 3rd annual Healthy Neighborhoods Celebration hosted by Neighborhood Allies on Oct. 24, 2019.
According to the Healthy Neighborhoods award committee, the Roxian project to redevelop the 1,470 capacity vaudeville-era Roxian Theatre “embraces the spirit of the McKees Rocks community while standing out with preserved and polished architectural features.”
“The importance of this theatre to the community can not be overstated – McKees Rocks is now a destination where the performing arts are a key ingredient in the process of helping generate economic activity, sparking new businesses and attracting visitors to the neighborhood.”
Additionally, the non-profit’s theater revitalization project and the partners involved in making the dream project a reality have been recognized by several other groups including a “catalytic place” award from Urban Land Institute – Pittsburgh and recognition by Bridgeway Capital during its annual event Oct. 16.
On Oct. 6, MRCDC received word that the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office’s (PA SHPO) Community Initiative Award will be presented during May 2020 in honor of National Historic Preservation Month.
“The Roxian Theatre is an iconic local landmark, that through the hard work and perseverance of McKees Rocks CDC, the project team, and the building’s owners, has been transformed from community liability to a community asset,” wrote Andrea MacDonald, director PA SHPOand Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer.
The “Community Initiative Award” is presented to those whose work embodies the theme of Pennsylvania’s statewide historic preservation plan.
“As gratifying it is to win these prestigious awards, the recognition it provides our community is so much more valuable. Amongst a diverse group of peers covering the private, public and non-profit sectors, what these awards do is demonstrate the tremendous and exciting opportunity to invest in the people and places of Sto-Rox,” said Taris Vrcek, executive director MRCDC.
“We have said all along that the Roxian was the means to a greater end. In many ways, our work has just begun, but there is a much larger chorus of believers now because of the unique beauty, grandeur and market creator that is the Roxian Theatre.”
Lawrenceville entrepreneur John Pergal and partners purchased the historic Roxian Theatre from the MRCDC in late 2017, with the venue reopening to the public in May 2019.
The $9 million Roxian project is funded with approximately $1.4 million in recoverable loans from the MRCDC which obtained the funds from grants provided by the Hillman Foundation, The Heinz Foundation and the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), $5 million in loans from the Reinvestment Fund, Bridgeway Capital and LISC, $600,000 from the sale of federal historic tax credits and private equity of $2 million. A 10-year Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance (LERTA) was provided by the McKees Rocks Borough and the Sto-Rox School District.