WEST CHESTER (July 30) – Plans to turn the West Chester’s former Pennsylvania National Guard Armory into a theater for live entertainment took another step forward this week with borough council unanimously voting to approve new zoning for the site.

Borough council approved an ordinance to create a Cultural Use Overlay District that includes the historic armory building, which organizers with the Uptown! Entertainment Alliance (UEA) plan to develop into a 300-seat venue for the performing arts. The building, located at 226 N. High St, was previously not zoned for that type of use.

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Senator Dinniman with UEA and borough officials in front of the Armory.

“The arts have played a leading role in West Chester’s redevelopment success story,” Dinniman said. “And thanks to the work of so many volunteers, supporters and patrons of the Uptown! Entertainment Alliance, I have no doubt that they will continue to do so.”

Dinniman, who worked extensively with the UEA to acquire the armory from the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMVA), applauded the vote as “another important step toward giving the arts a permanent home in West Chester.”

Thanks to Dinniman’s work, in early 2013 the UEA reached an agreement with the DMVA to acquire the 10,900-square-foot building for $760,000, provided that it be maintained and preserved in accordance with historic standards.

The Pennsylvania National Guard unit previously stationed at the Armory, approximately 170 troops of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Battalion, 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, moved into the new Coatesville Readiness Center in Sadsbury later that year.

In addition, Dinniman helped usher legislation through the general assembly to approve the conveyance of the armory building from the Commonwealth to the UEA.

UEA officials say they hope to close on the sale of the building in October and begin work on significant repair and historic rehabilitation efforts soon after.

The building, which was built in 1916 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits on just over half an acre.

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