El Corazón Cultural Center expected to break ground by September
After a monumental fundraising effort that spanned a year, Taller Puertorriqueño's Executive Director Carmen Febo announced that the organization is expecting its capital expansion project to break ground by in September.
The project involves the transformation of an parking lot into a hub for the community that will be known as “El Corazón Cultural Center,” described by the organization as “the crossroads where people come together.”
"We coined the term corazón cultural because is what it means to be able to identify with your culture, and its art and music. (To be able to identify) with everything that represents us as Latinos. Taller is a place where we can celebrate and recognize who we are culturally and artistically,” Febo said to AL DÍA News.
To launch the project, Taller Puertorriqueño announced it had obtained a City Council resolution to transfer the 2.3 acre lot of land located at 2601-34 Nth 5th Street for this undertaking. By March of last year, the organization had raised $1.5 million from the City of Philadelphia Cultural Corridors, and an additional $5 million of RACP funds.
According to the organization, the building will consolidate and provide expanded space for all programs. With a total cost of $11.4 million, the new facilities are expected to include more classrooms with the latest technology and dance and theater studios that can combine into a 220-seat multi-use event space. An outdoor play area for the children participating in programs, and an outdoor art patio for social functions and private contemplation.
It will also include a larger and more accessible gift shop, as well as a more spacious and flexible exhibition gallery with climate-control systems.
“Our goal is to create a hub for art, for meetings, for social occasions, and for day-to-day gathering,” Febo said.
The project’s fundraising gap was recently closed by a $2 million allocation in New Market Tax Credits by PNC Bank, as well as another $8 million allocation from Philadelphia’s public-private economic development corporation (PIDC), providing $2.9 million in equity. “This, in addition to all the other fundraising we have done ($7.4 million) will leave a gap we will fill with a low interest loan from PIDC,” Febo said.
“As things look right now, we are hoping to make an official announcement and hope to break ground by September, 2015, with a 12 month construction period,” Febo stated in an email to AL DÍA.