PITTSBURG — Construction on the Block 22 project is slated to begin this week as the final documents have been signed.
According to a release from the Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation, the foundation board of trustees signed the final documents to sell the National Bank Building in Pittsburg to Block 22, LLC. The final sale of the building along with three other historic properties closed on Friday, marking the go-ahead for the Block 22 downtown redevelopment project to break ground.
Once work is complete, in August 2018, the buildings will have 105 student housing units aimed at upperclassmen and graduate students, commercial and education space, and an area for The Pittsburg State University Center for Innovation and Business Development.
According to the release, Vecino Group COO Matt Burton credits the location of an historic theatre on the same street as Block 22 as a contributing factor in the decision to go forward with the project.
“The community’s commitment to its downtown and to historic preservation encouraged us to pursue this complex project,” he said in the release. “Having the National Bank Building available made the project viable.”
Vecino group is the developer for the project which is a collaboration between Vecino, PSU and the City of Pittsburg.
The project will use roughly $10 million in federal and state historic-tax credits along with new-market tax credits for equity in the development. The group will finance the remaining $5.5 million.
The city has agreed to a $1.5 million contribution, which will come from the revolving loan fund in two installments — $750,000 initially and another $750,000 once the project is complete. The money will not be repaid.
“If the city can generate a dollar by spending a dime, we feel it is a good investment,” Assistant City Manager Jay Byers said previously.
PSU has raised $1.2 million from four donors as well.
The sale of the National Bank Building marks the end of a six-year journey for the CFTF since the organization saved the 129-year-old structure from the wrecking ball in 2011. The Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation board of trustees, members and community volunteers safeguarded the National Bank at 4th and Broadway in order to secure the historic building for future development, according to the release.
“People thought we were crazy but we had a vision,” Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation Executive Director Vonnie Corsini said in the release. “Now, our vision is being realized and one of downtown's historic landmarks will soon be transformed into a community living space that future generations can enjoy.
“Plus, the return on the investment we made 5 years ago will now go directly into the restoration of the Colonial Fox Theatre.”
Built in 1888, the National Bank Building is part of a large-scale redevelopment of four historic buildings located at the intersection of Fourth and Broadway in downtown Pittsburg. Known as “Block 22”, this new development will become a "living-learning community" consisting of housing for Pittsburg State University students and commercial space.
“The downtown is our face to the world, and 4th and Broadway is the heart of our town. The value to the community of having these buildings renovated and back in productive use cannot be overestimated.” Byers said in the release.
Colonial Fox Theatre Foundation President Gina Pinamonti said she was happy to see the project moving forward
“As stewards of the investment the community has made in the Colonial Fox Theatre, we knew it was our responsibility to protect the environment in which the Theatre will operate,” she said. “We are excited see Block 22 move forward with the knowledge that one of Pittsburg's historic buildings will soon realize its full potential.”