Roxian Theatre awarded ULI – Pittsburgh 2019 Catalytic Place award

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Pittsburgh awarded the Roxian Theatre with the Catalytic Place Award during the 7th Annual Placemaking Awards for Excellence, on Friday, Oct. 18.

The Placemaking Awards for Excellence is an annual event that provides ULI the opportunity to formally recognize outstanding projects, achievements and leaders in the region who are committed to the creation and celebration of “place.”

The Catalytic Place honor and award is given to a project that is recognized as a place that best generates improvement and progress to the economic development and/or standard of living in a surrounding community. The Roxian Theatre embodies these characteristics, truly serving as a catalyst for positive community development and change in McKees Rocks.

Members of the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation and the Roxian Live teams attended the Oct. 18 award ceremony together.

Neighborhood Allies President Presley Gillespie and McKees Rocks Community Development Corp. Executive Director Taris Vrcek with the 2019 placemaking award. Neighborhood Allies, a local community development partner that exists to support and maintain healthy neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, was instrumental in bringing the LISC to the project. LISC, a US non-profit community development financial institution, provided both a low-interest loan and recoverable grant support for the Roxian Theatre project.

In 2017, local entrepreneur John Pergal, owner of Lawrenceville’s Thunderbird Cafe & Music Hall, and several partners in a public-private partnership bought the Roxian Theatre from the MRCDC with intentions of renovating the existing vacant, 1920’s-era Art Deco vaudeville theatre to its former grandeur.

MRCDC has leveraged the completion of the Roxian to successfully request a $1.9 million grant from PennDOT, to add to the $1.1 million in funds that it has already attracted to the street project, to complete the first phase of a downtown streetscape reconstruction project.

The $3.5 million first phase will rebuild a redesigned roadway and public right-of-ways from the Chartiers Creek bridge on Linden Street to McDonalds Way and will include new sidewalks, pedestrian amenities, lighting, bike and transit facilities, smart signalization, stormwater management features and separated sewer systems, among other things.

The Roxian Theatre will also impact the development of the public space along Chartiers Creek, with anticipated attention being given to creek access, but more specifically to the connection being worked on to build a creek crossing into an expanded Sheraden Park from downtown McKees Rocks.

Additionally, MRCDC has been working with the City of Pittsburgh on creating public space along the Chartiers Creek, which is also the municipal line between Pittsburgh and McKees Rocks. Public input meetings on creating a master plan for the Sheraden Park project are being held in Sheraden.