Back when John Street was Philly’s mayor Taller Puertorriqueño received a $1.5 million Cultural Corridors grant. For the better part of the last decade, the 40-year old arts and education group has been steadily fundraising to build a new cultural center in the heart of Philadelphia’s longtime Latino and Puerto Rican community along North 5th Street.
From a $5 million state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program grant to $5,000 from the Eagles, the funding sources for the project are diverse. Now a nearly $3 million New Markets Tax Credit investment through PNC Bank and a low-interest loan from PIDC mean the $11.4 million project is fully funded.
As we reported last year, the new WRT-designed building for El Corazón Cultural Center will be constructed on what is now a parking lot at the corner of North 5th and Huntingdon streets, allowing Taller Puertorriqueño to move out of its two nearby buildings – both full to the brim – and put its programs, shop, gallery, office under one roof with room to grow. It will be a place where Taller Puertorriqueño can continue and expand its arts education and cultural programs, mount more significant exhibitions for Latino and Puerto Rican artists, and provide space for community gatherings.
Multi-million dollar cultural projects don’t break ground every day in Fairhill. Clearing the project’s huge fundraising hurdle is a major accomplishment for Taller Puertorriqueño, and the project will mark a new chapter in the organization’s life.
“This is big,” said Carmen Febo-San Miguel, Taller Puertorriqueño’s executive director, in an email. “Not only for Taller and the opportunities it brings but because of expanded and augmented programming, but because the new Taller, with the arts at its core, will create commercial, tourism, marketing and cultural opportunities to attract, retain and develop increased traffic from within as well as from outside the neighborhood. This is real community transformation through the arts.”
Febo-San Miguel said a contractor had been selected and the hope is to break ground this fall.