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Irwin Borough to provide nearly $125K to rehabilitate theater

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 4:30 p.m.

Irwin officials estimate it could cost about $900,000 to rehabilitate the Lamp Theatre.

Officials developed a budget of $874,700 during their July 10 meeting to rehabilitate the theater, though the borough would only be responsible for about $125,000 according to manager Mary Benko.

“This entire budget will not be used this year, but over the span of the entire rehabilitation project,” she said. “This budget is basically a tool to help us funnel money into the right sources.”

Officials hope to open the theater by the summer of 2014, according to council president John Cassandro.

Benko said the majority of the budget is made up by several grants from the state and county, including $500,000 from the state and county Department of Community and Economic Development, and donations.

Benko said the borough's $125,000 contribution, which is funded through a line of credit with a 3.25 percent interest rate from S&T Bank, could be covered through fundraising efforts. Although the borough opened the line of credit, officials are not obligated to take money from the bank, she said.

Instead, officials hope to cover the borough's portion through fundraising efforts, Cassandro said.

He said officials want to raise approximately $200,000 to cover the borough's portion of the project.

“Right now, we have about $50,000 raised,” he said. “We need to get fundraising.”

Council also hopes to take control of the former Irwin Hotel property in August if it has a clean title.

Borough solicitor Todd Turin plans to conduct a title search on the 6,500-square-foot property, which is slated to become the Lamp Theatre's courtyard.

“If no title search is done, we'd be taking the property subject to any liens, encumbrances or judgments,” Turin said. “I know it comes from the redevelopment authority, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is guaranteed a clean title.”

Benko said she does not expect any liens against the property, but said council would discuss its options if the property did not have a clean title.

Currently, it is owned by the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority, which plans to deed the land to the borough. The county's only condition is for the land to always be associated with the Lamp Theatre, Benko said.

“They want to know the property will always be part of its development, because that was always going to be its intended purpose,” Benko said. “They could have gone ahead and sold it, so they want to know the land and theater are a part of the redevelopment of that portion of Main Street.”

According the Westmoreland County real estate tax records, the land has a value of $13,000.

The Irwin Hotel was destroyed in a fire in 2009, and was eventually demolished through a grant from the Westmoreland County Redevelopment Authority.

Borough officials plan to use the land to house a small outdoor stage, tables and chairs for borough-sponsored events, Cassandro said.

Council plans to develop it in three phases, Cassandro said. The first phase could begin in the fall, once officials acquire the land, he added.

During the first phase, officials plan to pave the lot, and build a small stage to accommodate small performances, he said. The second phase includes installing a fence, tables, chairs and other amenities, while the final part would include landscaping, he said.

Officials have not yet prepared cost estimates for the courtyard project, Cassandro said.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or

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