The Pennsylvania Redevelopment Assistance Capitol Program awarded ArtsQuest $7 million for the revitalization and preservation of the Turn and Grind, a 150-year-old 26,000-square-foot former Bethlehem Steel building adjacent to the SteelStacks Visitor Center presented by St. Luke’s University Health Network.
The work will include a 14,000 square foot public programming space to present nationally touring educational programs, science and arts related exhibits, expansion of ArtsQuest festivals including Christkindlmarkt, Oktoberfest, Musikfest and more.
“This is a unique building in South Side Bethlehem,” said Kassie Hilgert, president and CEO of ArtsQuest.
“We are extremely grateful that this structure, originally donated by Sands (now Wind Creek), is being reimagined in a way that preserves our history and allows ArtsQuest to continue our mission of providing unparalleled access to the arts. We are grateful to those in the public sector – including Governor Tom Wolf, State Senators Pat Browne and Lisa Boscola, our State Representatives, and Bethlehem and Northampton County officials – not only for understanding the importance of our work, but also for recognizing our role in the advancement, enrichment, economic development and urban revitalization of the community.
According to Hilgert, Air Products provided an initial pledge of $1.5 million, with part of that funding earmarked for ArtsQuest’s planned 80,000 square foot cultural center that will replace the Banana Factory on Third Street.
Air Products has long supported the Lehigh Valley-based nonprofit, as title sponsor of its Air Products Town Square and initial partner of its SteelStacks campus. Northampton County has also pledged $1 million for the new cultural center and $1 million for the Turn and Grind.
ArtsQuest is relaunching its $66 million fundraising campaign designed to transform the arts district on the South Side of Bethlehem and improve access to the arts regionally. Hilgert explained that the organization is driven by the need to serve the growing diversity of the community.
“These are exciting times for ArtsQuest and the city of Bethlehem,” said Hilgert. “We have demonstrated a strong record of dynamic growth over the past four decades, working with the private and public sectors, transforming and strengthening access to the arts in the Lehigh Valley. The replacement of the banana factory with a new cultural center and the revitalization of the old Turn and Grind will help attract visitors, artists, businesses and the creative class to the city and region, thus stimulating economic development and urban revitalization.
ArtsQuest received a $7 million grant to renovate the Turn and Grind, a 150-year-old 26,000 square foot former Bethlehem Steel building. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO