Taller Puertorriqueño, a community-based multidisciplinary arts group that has been supporting the Latino and Puerto Rican culture in the Philadelphia region for almost four decades, is looking to expand in a new headquarters facility in the Fairhill neighborhood of eastern-north Philadelphia.
Known as El Corazón del Barrio or “the golden block,” the area spans several blocks between Huntingdon Street and Lehigh Avenue that house Latino businesses, community organizations, retail and restaurant space. Taller Puertorriqueño’s new multipurpose building, which has already received approval from the City Planning Commission, will be called El Corazón Cultural Center and will replace a 2.3-acre surface parking lot located at the corner of North 5th and West Huntingdon. The City of Philadelphia transferred the 2.3-acre site to Taller Puertorriqueño in December 2007.
Taller Puertorriqueño currently operates in two separate buildings totaling 10,000 square feet on
North 5th Street that are two blocks away; with the new cultural center, the organization hopes to create a more visible space in a single location that will accommodate Taller’s existing programs while introducing new programs and activities that will reach a broader audience in the Latino community.
The 24,000-square-foot cultural facility was designed by Philadelphia’s Wallace Roberts & Todd Architects (WRT), with Antonio Fiol-Silva and Modesto Bigas- Valedón, serving as principal architects. According to Taller Puertorriqueño, El Corazón Cultural Center will include a larger gift shop, a more spacious and more flexible exhibition gallery, seven classrooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology, as well as dance and theater studios that can combine into a 5,000-square-foot event space with 220 seats. The cultural center will also feature an expanded bookstore, a café, a family/community gathering space, children’s play area, administrative offices, a patio and 100 parking spaces.
According to PlanPhilly, the project is estimated to cost up to $11 million, of which Taller Puertorriqueño has already secured $6.6 million. The project is eligible for $3 million in New Market Tax Credits, which leaves the organization with a $1.5 gap that the group is trying to close by running fundraising campaigns and offering naming opportunities for specific spaces in the El Corazón Cultural Center.
Rendering courtesy of WRT Architects