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Philadelphia, PA

The Asian Arts Initiative (AAI) is a community based arts center in Philadelphia that engages artists and everyday people in the creation of art that explores the diverse experiences of Asian Americans. AAI serves a diverse constituency of Asian immigrants, Asian Americans and others, with the majority of its participants living in its Chinatown neighborhood or accessing its programming via public transit. The news that its facility would be demolished as part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion in 2006 provided AAI the opportunity to relocate to larger, more appropriate space but also the significant challenge of finding an affordable facility in the Chinatown/Center City area that would remain as accessible to its participants and audiences.


The AAI retained Urban Partners to assist it in its search for new space, negotiate tenancy terms, coordinate project financing and manage the fit-out of the new space. Given the steadily-rising property values of downtown Philadelphia, AAI sought to purchase a new facility rather than enter a rental agreement and face possible relocation in only a few years. We assisted the AAI identify a 24,000 SF building that could provide appropriate exhibition, performance and meeting space for AAI and, eventually, other non-profit arts tenants; negotiated the lease/purchase of this space; coordinated financing for the acquisition and phased fit-out of the facility, and managed the selection and oversight of project architects, engineers and contractors. The new AAI facility at 12th and Vine Streets in Chinatown incorporates individual artist studios and office and program space, including rooms for workshops and meetings, gallery and exhibition areas and a black-box theater.

Client: Asian Arts Initiative
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