SMETHPORT — The McKean County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) adopted resolutions Thursday authorizing its officers to submit Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant applications to the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget for the Marilyn Horne Exhibit Center at the Seneca Building and the Children’s Home of Bradford facilities improvement projects.
Each application will be in the amount of $3 million, officials said.
In both cases, Gov. Tom Corbett has authorized a $3 million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to the McKean County IDA for the projects, but in order to receive the funding the IDA must prepare a grant application, which is to be submitted to the Pennsylvania Office of the Budget.
Richard Esch, vice president for business affairs at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, presented a summary of the Marilyn Horne Exhibit Center, which is to be located on the first floor of the Seneca Building.
“The Seneca Building, built in 1932, has become the anchor building in downtown Bradford,” Esch noted. “Approximately eight years ago, this building was donated to UPB.”
Since then, the university has completed $2 to $3 million in renovations, including a new roof, resurfaced parking lot and offices.
Over the years, Horne, a Bradford native and opera star, has acquired a vast and very valuable archive collection comprised of musical compositions, recordings, photographs, performance artifacts, newspaper clippings, costumes, posters honors and awards, and the Marilyn Horne Foundation has gifted a collection of materials for the benefit of Pitt-Bradford.
“The goal of the Marilyn Horne Exhibit Center is to make all the acquired materials from the Marilyn Horne Archive Collection available to the widest public audience,” Esch said.
The Marilyn Horne Exhibit Center project will involve the complete renovation of the first floor of the Seneca Building at a total cost of $4.8 million.
With the planned rotating and interactive exhibits and museum-quality displays, the Center’s focus will be on visitor/audience engagement and participation.
Existing storefront windows and entry doors are slated to be replaced with energy-efficient glass and handicap accessible doors.
“The interior partitions are to be reconfigured to accommodate the Marilyn Horne Archive Collection and exhibits, the installation of handicap accessible restrooms, a community meeting room and event space and a gift shop with books, music and other related materials,” Esch said.
Besides the first floor renovations, the project also will be comprised of infrastructure improvements to address building code requirements due to the first floor renovations, such as a new heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, a new elevator in the lobby area, a new generator, fire pump and stand pipe, site work handicap access and a building-wide security system.
“We look at this as an economic development project,” said Esch, ”since it could bring tour buses to downtown.”
The building will remain the home of the Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center (BCPAC), and tenants will have the opportunity to move to the upper floors.
The project could be in the construction stages about a year from now.
Giving a summary of the Children’s Home of Bradford facilities improvement project was Guy Signor, vice president of communications and development at Beacon Light Behavior Health Systems.
Last year, Beacon Light committed to developing a master facility plan to assist future program and growth initiatives. Officials engaged an architectural firm to review all the existing buildings and provide a three-phase, 10-year facilities plan with recommendations for improvements.
“The master plan calls for a $4.4 million upgrade to the administrative building on East Main Street, headquarters for the agency’s 600 employees in nine counties — 384 in McKean County alone — and a new resident wing containing 10 units,” Signor said.
Upgrades to the building, the original Children’s Home, that dates back more than 100 years, will address a number of accessibility deficiencies, such as wheelchair ramps, an elevator, handicap-accessible restrooms, as well as other Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements.
“Phase 2 of the Master Facility Plan also calls for the addition of a training center,” according to Signor. “As we expand our services throughout the state, the need for centralized training facilities has become essential. The construction of modern training facilities will allow Beacon Light to work with other companies and agencies who have the need for facilities for their own training or meeting needs.”
Beacon Light officials see the improvement project as an investment in the local and county economies. In 2012, the agency paid $34,363.40 in property taxes and an additional $114,149 in wage taxes.
“We want to stay in Bradford and McKean County,” Signor said.
No public comments were received on either of the two projects at Thursday’s hearing.
Prior to the votes on the resolutions, Debbie Huston, community-economic development manager for the Bradford Office of Economic and Community Development, explained the procedure for selecting the projects for the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, noting the positive roles played by Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, and state Rep. Martin Causer, R-Turtlepoint.