The new Baby Bello in Beaver Falls will host lectures, meetings, music and more – The Times

The new Baby Bello in Beaver Falls will host lectures, meetings, music and more – The Times

BEAVER FALLS – A new city site will host lectures, meetings, music and more.
The Baby Bello, located in the former PNC branch at 815 22nd St., will serve as an offshoot of the planned Portobello Cultural Life & Arts Center, beginning in 2023.
Stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the groundbreaking and construction of the Portobello — an innovative, multi-use structure, often referred to as a “town square” where people can enjoy arts and culture ― was slated to begin in March 2020. Concurrently, the structure’s founder, Stray Cat Studio owner Renee Suhr, saw wholesale production requests and education programs increase at her art studio at 507 Seventh St., in Beaver Falls, making the need for a larger building necessary.
The solution for both is the new Stray Cat Studio facility at the former PNC bank branch, which soon will offer an exclusive pottery production department and space for members and classes and 12 pottery wheels. It also will feature a retail shop with a combination of vendors, including Stray Cat’s pottery, plus the Baby Bello, a scaled-down flexible-use space to be used by the community for meetings, lectures, fitness, gatherings, script readings, music, spoken word, performing arts classes and more.
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“I think it will be an amazing place to hang out or meet up with friends,” Suhr, owner of Stray Cat Studio and CEO of Mycelia Development, through which the Portobello is being built, said, “One person might be coming in for a book club and bump into a friend who is there for a music lesson, for instance. The Baby Bello will be a place where all kinds of people can meet on common ground and shared interests.”
Stray Cat will continue to provide all the same classes and pottery production, just on a slightly larger scale and alongside the Baby Bello activities. 
“The Baby Bello will answer the lack of community gathering spaces we heard a need for prior to the pandemic,” Joline Atkins, director of artistic programs for the Portobello, said in a press release, “Now, as many are craving in-person gatherings, even at smaller scales, we have the answer for artistic, educational, and civic gatherings ― and in a setting surrounded by artists, which comes with an added dollop of inspiration.”
Minimal renovations on the property begin this fall, with full occupancy planned for winter 2023, though smaller events could begin as soon as February.
The PNC ATM will remain operable at the site, with a cleaner, more well-lit experience and improved parking lot, the press release said.
Plans call for construction on the larger Portobello building, in a vacant lot off Seventh Avenue/Route 18 in the downtown Beaver Falls Business District, to commence in 2023.
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