$1M grant boosts Pittsburgh plan to open Downtown movie theater | TribLIVE.com
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Bob Bauder

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust received a much needed $1 million boost from Pennsylvania this week for plans to open a six-screen movie theater on Sixth Street, Downtown.

Kevin McMahon, who heads the cultural trust, said it now has about $10 million for the theater project, but still needs another $2 million to $3 million.

“We are very confident that over the next year or two we’ll be able to find the remaining funding,” he said.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline, on Thursday announced that the cultural trust and 16 other development projects around Pittsburgh had been awarded a total of $15 million in state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grants.

The cultural trust is planning the theater for a building that most recently housed Bally Total Fitness Club, but had a long history as a cinema. The building was built in 1891 as The Alvin Theater and had later incarnations as the Shubert-Alvin Theater, the J.P. Harris Theater and finally the Gateway, according to the Heinz History Center’s Detre Library & Archives. The Gateway closed in 1980.

McMahon said interior demolitions are nearly complete and the cultural trust is working to finalize plans for interior design.

Plans call for about 100 large seats per screen, a state-of-art sound system and a concession stand serving food, wine and cocktails. In addition to first-run movies, the trust is hoping to include other film genres.

“We’re very fortunate to receive this significant grant from the state,” McMahon said. “Our public officials have been hugely helpful. It’s really helped us turn the corner and get other funding for the project.”

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