WEST CHESTER (February 18) – State Senator Andy Dinniman announced that the Borough of West Chester will receive $200,000 in state funding to support the redevelopment of the new Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center, located at the site of the former Pennsylvania National Guard Armory.

“The Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center is quickly becoming a gem of West Chester’s business district,” Dinniman said. “This funding is another incentive to promote business development and drive economic growth while increasing opportunities for arts and entertainment – all factors that contribute to our excellent quality of life here in West Chester and Chester County.”

The funding will be used for the purchase and installation of specialized lighting, visual and audio equipment, and seating at the new theater. It comes as part of $1.4 million in total community revitalization funding awarded to nine projects across the Commonwealth.

The Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center officially opened this year at the site of the former armory, located at 226 N. High St. in West Chester. Dinniman was instrumental in helping the organization acquire the site from the Pennsylvania Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, after the national guard unit stationed there moved to a new facility in Coatesville. 

The 10,900-square-foot building, which dates back to 1906, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It housed the National Guard’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry and 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which traces its lineage directly to Benjamin Franklin, who formed the unit in 1747 to protect the Colonies in the French and Indian War. 

The theater officially opened on January 1 and is already featuring live musical, comedy, and theatrical performances, as well as guest speakers.

The funding comes through an Anchor Building Grant administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Keystone Community Program. It is a “revolving grant” program, meaning grant funds are issued to the borough, which provides loans to eligible community revitalizations projects, in this case, the Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center. Once the loan is repaid, the borough can then make the funds available to another eligible project in the form of a loan.

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