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Decision on state grant for Sewickley theater project expected within a week

| Tuesday, July 2, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Village Theater Co. leaders could be closer to raising $1.5 million to build a movie theater in Sewickley by next week.

An application for a $350,000 grant for the project is awaiting consideration by the Commonwealth Finance Authority board in Harrisburg. Money would come from the state Gaming Economic Development Fund, and a decision is expected to be made July 10.

As of Friday, theater leaders had about $750,000 in pledged financial support, board member Susan Kaminski said.

The two-screen movie theater, which would show independent and classic films and host educational events, is one of 19 projects across Allegheny County awaiting approval, said Patrick Early, manager with the county economic development department. The department recommended the local projects — with grant requests varying from $200,000 to $500,000 — to the state board.

Kaminski said the possibility for grant money “reinforces the value of the theater to the community.”

Theater leaders hoped to have $1.5 million in pledges by June 30, but Kaminski called this a “soft” deadline and said she's optimistic a grant award would spur additional donations.

“There's so much buzz about the theater,” she said. “It's a vital part of the future of Sewickley.”

Kaminski and other board members were expected to meet July 2 to review funds and consider costs.

Thorn-­Walnut Management LLC, under project manager Peter Friday, has pledged land between Thorn and Beaver streets, near Green Street, as a site for the theater.

If organizers can't firm up plans for the project after a specified period, the opportunity to use the land might be lost, spokeswoman Patty Jones said. She didn't specify how much time the group had.

In March, Sewickley Council approved a plan for a three-story office building at 417 Thorn St. The building would be part of an area referred to as Theater Square, which also could include retail space, the theater and a public parking garage.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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