Allegheny County projects get $25.5 million in state grants

Project in Lower Hill gets largest amount

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State grants announced Monday will bring money and jobs to the region for projects from the redevelopment of the Lower Hill to an expansion of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

A quarter of more than $133 million in grants awarded across Pennsylvania for improvement projects will come to Allegheny and surrounding counties, the governor's office said.

The 58 grants, ranging from $500,000 to $5 million, for the construction of regional civic, cultural, economic, historical and recreational improvement projects are expected to create more than 45,000 jobs in 24 counties, the Corbett administration said in a news release.

Eleven of the Economic Growth Initiative grants -- worth $25.5 million -- were awarded in Allegheny County, and agencies in surrounding counties received an additional four grants totaling $8.5 million.

The largest local grant, $5 million, was awarded to the Sports and Exhibition Authority for an infrastructure project in the Lower Hill expected to be complete in March 2015. The Lower Hill project also received $5 million grants in February and September.

Among the other projects, the 31st Street Studios will receive $1.5 million to improve its buildings, and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School will receive $1 million toward expanding into an adjacent building and more than doubling enrollment, state Rep. Adam Ravenstahl, D-North Side, said.

A grant of $2.5 million is intended for the East Liberty Transit Center/TOD, a project to ease more than 800 daily bus arrivals at the dilapidated East Liberty Busway station, according to its website.

"The common thread here is that all of these projects are critical to our region's ability to attract and retain talent," said Robert Rubinstein, Urban Redevelopment Authority acting executive director.

In Beaver County, the Aliquippa Tin Mill, L.P., received a $3 million grant to redevelop the 78-acre site of the former J&L Steel Corp. tin mill and successor LTV Steel Corp. This project intends to create the infrastructure needed for the development of a petrochemical manufacturing facility, Rep. Robert Matzie, D-Ambridge, said.

"For this application to be selected speaks to its strength and what it means for the continued economic development and recovery of a brownfield in my district and the region as a whole," he said.

More than $124 million in grants were awarded during the initial round of funding in mid-February, and a second round in September yielded another $30 million, according to the state budget website.

Of that money, $23.75 million came to Allegheny County.

"We are transforming oft-neglected parts of our towns into thriving centers of commerce and recreation," Gov. Tom Corbett said Monday. "Brownfields are becoming brownstones. Creative thinking and careful stewardship are creating opportunities for businesses and families alike as we renew hope in our communities."

Lexi Belculfine:, 412-263-1878 or on Twitter @LexiBelc.

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