Developments in redevelopment

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While I was at Vox Populi last week, I asked gallery director Yana Balson about what I assumed to be the imminent demolition of the gallery’s space. Vox, the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Highwire Gallery, the Asian Arts Initiative and a number of artists studios are in the Gilbert Building, at 1315 Cherry Street, a location that is scheduled to be gobbled up by the expansion of the nearby Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Gilbert Building, with its stacked large spaces, has become a terrific locus for viewing art in the past few years in Philadelphia, enhanced by its location down the street from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

From the newspaper articles I read reporting the release of the money by the Pennsylvania Legislature for the expansion, I assumed this spring would be the end of the line.

Balson, however, was optimistic that the demolition was far from imminent, and that the gallery might be able to eke out two more years in the building. She said the building owner had not yet been formally notified of the takeover, and the Convention Center would have to purchase the building, then the city would have to condemn it and the tenants would have to be given some time to relocate. She said she was hoping for two years before the gallery would actually have to evacuate.

On the dark side, real estate and rentals are high right now and appropriate buildings are not plentiful in Center City, which is where the gallery would prefer to remain. On the bright side, the city, she said, is supposed to pay for relocation expenses.

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