$7M RACP grant to fund ArtsQuest revitalization project

The Turn and Grind, a 150-year-old, 26,000-square-fott building that used to be part of Bethlehem Steel. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –

ArtsQuest has received $7 million towards the revitalization and preservation of the Turn and Grind, a 150-year-old, 26,000-square-fott building that used to be part of Bethlehem Steel. 

The building is next door to the SteelStacks Visitor Center. 

The funds come from the Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) 

Work on the building will include the creation of a 14,000-square-foot public programming space to feature nationally touring education programs, science- and arts-related exhibits, expansion of ArtsQuest’s festivals including Christkindlmarkt, Octoberfest, Musikfest and more. 

 “This is a unique building in South Side Bethlehem,” said Kassie Hilgert, ArtsQuest President and CEO. “We’re extremely thankful that this structure, originally gifted by Sands (now Wind Creek), will be reimagined in a way that preserves our history and allows ArtsQuest to continue our mission of providing unparalleled access to the arts.”  

According to Hilgert, Air Products provided an initial $1.5 million pledge, with some of that funding slated for ArtsQuest’s planned 80,000-square-foot Cultural Center that will replace the Banana Factory on Third Street.  

Northampton County has also pledged $1 million for the new Cultural Center and $1 million for the Turn and Grind. 

Hilgert said that ArtsQuest is currently relaunching its $66 million capital campaign, which is designed to transform Bethlehem’s Southside Arts District and enhance access to the arts regionally.  

“These are exciting times for ArtsQuest and the City of Bethlehem,” Hilgert said. “We’ve demonstrated a strong track record of dynamic growth these past four decades, working with the private and public sectors, transforming and strengthening access to the arts in the Lehigh Valley. Replacing the Banana Factory with a new cultural center and revitalizing the former Turn and Grind will aid in the attraction of visitors, artists, businesses and the creative class to the city and region spurring additional economic development and urban revitalization.” 


Bethlehem, Easton-area projects get $18M in redevelopment money

Seven projects in the Lehigh Valley were awarded nearly $18 million from the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, legislators reported this week.

State Sens. Lisa Boscola and Pat Browne and state Rep. Steve Samuelson announced $13.6 million in RACP funding to three redevelopment projects in the City of Bethlehem: The ArtsQuest Turn and Grind Shop, $7 million; the Steel General Office Building, $5.5 million; and the Machine Shop at Lehigh Heavy Forge, $1.1 million.

The ArtsQuest Turn and Grind Shop project is an adaptive reuse of the abandoned Bethlehem Steel Corp. plant to support programming entertainment, cultural attractions, science and kindred displays.

The Steel General Office project funding is for demolition and abatement of portions of the building.

And Lehigh Heavy Forge, a supplier of ultra-large, forged components essential to national defense, will use the grant for its Machine Shop Upenders project.

The Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program is used for the acquisition and construction of regional economic, cultural, civic, recreational and historical improvement projects.

Boscola and Browne also announced $4.35 million in RACP funding for four other redevelopment projects in the region.

The Easton 185 South 3rd Street Confluence project ($3 million) money will be for construction of a 183-space parking garage and podium to spur the development of three mixed-use buildings. A pedestrian bridge is proposed to connect residents and visitors with the Easton Transportation Center garage.

Treatment Trends Inc. ($500,000) will use the grant funds toward the cost of demolition and renovation of the property at 110 Main St. in West Easton. The building is in need of a new roof and sealing of exterior brick and windows, which will be completed prior to beginning the interior work.

Portland Power Plant, Upper Mount Bethel Township, will allocate its $500,000 grant toward remediation and asbestos removal as well as demolition of one of the decommissioned boilers on the site.

Hangdog ($350,000) is an outdoor entertainment venue in Easton to include the largest adventure ropes course on the East Coast, with a brewery and food garden. The project involves improving a 3.7-acre parcel that has been acquired by a related entity, allowing for

erecting the aerial attraction and beer garden, including bringing the stormwater maintenance up to zoning requirements.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer