Greenville, Sharon Projects Land $1.7M in Grants

SHARON, Pa. – State grants totaling $1.7 million will assist three projects in Sharon and Greenville.

State Sen. Michele Brooks and Rep. Mark Longietti announced the grants Monday from Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.

A $700,000 grant will support Phase 2 of renovations to the Academic Center building at Thiel College in Greenville, while $500,000 each will go to a pair of Sharon projects, renovations at the Buhl Community Recreation Center in the F.H. Buhl Club and Downtown Penn State Shenango’s Community Initiative.

“These grants are terrific news for our region because they build on prior investments in ways that keep us growing,” Longietti, D-7 Hermitage, said in the news release announcing the grants.

“These grant funds will build on community and private investment in these areas of our hometowns,” Brooks, R-50 Greenville, said in the release. “We have taken the long view to see how we can connect our communities and our residents together in the long-term for the future.” 

Thiel College Academic Center rendering.

The $700,000 grant will assist the “substantial renovation” of the Thiel academic building, President Susan Traverso said. It is part of $17 million in upgrades to the campus taking place, with completion of the first phase of renovations to the Academic Center expected soon and reopening of the space within a few weeks.

“Thiel is in a growth phase,” she said. Enrollment is growing at a time when other colleges and universities nationwide are reporting enrolment declines. The college is focusing on programs for in-demand fields, with additions in recent years including nursing and environmental safety management.

The Phase II renovations to the Academic Center will solidify Thiel’s reputation while meeting regional workforce development needs, by creating laboratories, classrooms and common areas to bolster courses of study in high-demand fields, Longietti said.

The college is deep into planning for Phase 2 – including infrastructure work as well as upgrades to the classroom space and equipment – with construction targeted to begin in May 2023, Traverso said. She emphasized all of the construction work is being done by local contractors and praised the work done by Mercer County’s state delegation.

Melissa Phillips, Sharon community and economic development director, also praised the work done by local legislators to secure the $1 million in grants for the two projects in the city.

“It’s very exciting,” she remarked.

Many community residents use the Buhl recreation center, which also has a child care enter, Holmes said.

“It’s just really needed some updates and is widely used by people in the community,” she said. The grant funds will help with upgrades that will make the center more inviting.”

The funding, which complements private investments that allowed Buhl to expand, will help make the center accessible to all members of the community, “opening the door to hundreds of new members while providing for increased health benefits for people in our district,” Longietti said.

Warehouse property for the proposed PSU building.

Holmes said she hopes the $500,000 for the Penn State Shenango project – which JCL Development has pursued for several months – will advance the proposal to develop residential and mixed-use space on the site of the former Carine and Co. warehouse, adjacent to the PSU campus.

Earlier this year, JCL Development disclosed plans to repurpose the 48,000-square-foot building it owns at 297 Shenango Ave., across from the Penn State Shenango campus, as The Flats Center.

The building proposed by owner Jim Landino is a mixed-use facility that would provide affordable apartments and an athletic event center to serve Penn State Shenango.  He put the project in the range of $5 million to $6 million. 

“We feel the campus is a hidden gem within blocks of an ever-evolving downtown Sharon environment that we have been working to improve, revitalize and transform for many years,” Landino said in April.

The Shenango Campus of Penn State University has added several new academic programs and majors and is expanding its athletic footprint by adding new sports, Bill Dungee, the campus’ director of business and finance.

The expansions have “allowed us to recruit out of our normal service area” in the region to areas including Georgia and Louisiana, he said. The expanded recruitment area increases enrollment.

“By helping fund construction of the mixed-use facility adjacent to Penn State-Shenango, the grant to JCL Development will not only expand the foot traffic needed to sustain downtown Sharon’s developing commercial base, but it will also help create the campus community long envisioned by Penn State Shenango,” Longietti said.

Should JCL move forward with the project, the grant hopefully will help address the disparity between providing the quality of living space that young people want and their ability to afford it, Holmes said.

Pictured at top: F.H. Buhl Club, located at 28 Pine St., Sharon, Pa.

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