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Neighborhood Allies/LISC Make $1.45MM Investment In Transformative Roxian Theatre Project!

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In partnership with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)Neighborhood Allies offers financing, technical assistance and added capacity for a large range of community development and housing projects. Today, we’re happy to announce the closing of our most recent local financing package, a combination of loans, made to the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation and a private ownership group to support the renovation of the historic Roxian Theatre! 

The Roxian Theatre project entails the complete renovation of an existing vacant, 1920’s-era Art Deco vaudeville theatre located at the heart of the McKees Rocks business district in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“LISC/Neighborhood Allies, who were not even part of the original funding group, stepped up to plug what was a significant cost gap.  Then when further construction cost increases occurred at a later juncture, they found creative and flexible products to enhance their funding support and ensure the project would continue.  They were quick to step in and try to brainstorm solutions throughout the process.”

-Taris Vrcek, MRCDC

Re-imagined Chartiers Avenue Business District

The long-awaited promise of a mid-size live music venue in McKees Rocks is one step closer to stage time with this investment deal that pairs Lawrenceville entrepreneur John Pergal, the McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation and a host of financial partners including Neighborhood Allies and LISC.  The re-invention of the Roxian Theatre will help to make McKees Rocks a new kind of destination, one where performing arts is a key ingredient in the process of helping to generate economic activity, sparking new businesses and attracting new visitors to the community.

The renowned and historic Hollowood Music and Sounds, and the momentum from the Feastival, a music, art and food festival, which attracts thousands each summer to see national touring acts, has already made McKees Rocks a known music destination–the table is perfectly set for the Roxian to complete the music scene and benefit from the previous efforts of the local music economy!

“Neighborhood Allies understands the critical importance art and culture plays in uplifting our neighborhoods. We are so excited that after many stops and starts, the Roxian will be restored as a celebrated neighborhood destination that will deepen the connection among residents, welcome new visitors, and heighten economic activity along this important corridor. Equally exciting is that this is not a stand-alone project, but an integral part of the broader revitalization of McKees Rocks.”

-Presley Gillespie, Neighborhood Allies President

Proposed construction will include façade restoration plus complete renovation of the interior spaces to provide a new and highly competitive musical performance venue with appropriate supportive service installations and a seating capacity of about 1,400 people.  The venue will provide first-rate lighting and sound systems and improvements will include dance and standing room space as well as auditorium or café style seating on the first floor, fixed theatre seating on the second and third floor levels, bars with catered food service on both the first and second floors, and a VIP lounge on the upper level. Additionally, the project partners plan to offer an apprenticeship program for the entertainment industry that would prepare Sto-Rox residents to secure employment at the Roxian and in other entertainment-related venues in the community and beyond. Community groups will also be encouraged to coordinate with Roxian management for scheduling of local events.

 

“Working with Taris and the staff of McKees Rocks CDC was inspiring – from the determination and tenacity to see this project succeed to the willingness to explore creative financing solutions when obstacles arose, nothing was going to stop the team from bringing this critical asset to the community and it was a very rewarding experience to be a part of.”

-Zak Thomas, Neighborhood Allies/LISC

“The Roxian is a game changer for the Sto-Rox community. It will result in new business development, residential growth, new recreational opportunities and the creation of jobs for the community’s residents. With the Roxian, McKees Rocks is back on the map!”

-Ray Garofalo, Dollar Bank


Past, Present and Future | The Roxian Theater is Always a Place for Entertainment

1928 – Opened as a 1,500-seat vaudeville playhouse called “The Roxian.”

1931 – 1979 – Three years after opening, movies were incorporated into the business model and continued through the remainder of the Chartiers Avenue theater’s 80-year history.

1980 – The Roxian reopened as the Emerald Room, a banquet facility boasting a stage, dance floor, two bars, offices and a balcony.

1980 – 2003 – From weddings to professional wrestling and everything in between, the Emerald Room drew people from all over the region.

2003 – Emerald Room closes its doors.

2004 – McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation was formed and one of the first projects the group focused on was the revitalization of the vaudeville-era theater. The goal is to reposition the Roxian as a regional concert and performance venue.

2007-2011 – Funds totalling $600,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and $250,000 from Allegheny County Department of Economic Development was used to among other things improve the façade and reclaim the original layout of the building’s entryway.

2011 – McKees Rocks Community Development Corporation takes ownership, fully expecting The Roxian project to serve as a cornerstone of the group’s downtown McKees Rocks revitalization efforts.

2012 – 2017 – Creation of a public-private partnership that will fill a void in the Pittsburgh market for a mid-size concert venue commences. Building stabilization, as well as, architectural and engineering work occurs.

Fall 2017 – Roxian Live, LLC purchases the Roxian property and begins construction on the $9 million project.

Winter 2018-19 – Construction is expected to be completed with the grand opening of the music venue to be launched with much fanfare.

 

For more information on loan products and project types available in Pittsburgh and for services and support, contact Zak Thomas at zthomas@lisc.org.

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