ASIAN ARTS INITIATIVE FACILITY DEVELOPMENT
The Asian Arts Initiative 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 Philadelphia's Chinatown neighborhood or accessing its programs via public transit. The news that AAI's facility would be demolished as part of the Pennsylvania Convention Center expansion in 2006 provided the organization the opportunity to relocate to larger, more appropriate space but also posed the significant challenge of finding an affordable facilty in the Chinatown/Center City area that would remain accessible to its participants and audiences.
AAI retained Urban Partners to assist it in the search for new space, to negotiate tenancy terms, to coordinate project financing and to manage the fit-out of the selected new space. Given the steadily-rising property values in downtown Philadelphia, AAI sought to purchase its new facility rather than enter a rental agreement and face possible relocation in only a few years. We assisted AAI identify a 24,000 SF buliding that could provide appropriate exhibition, performance and meeting space for AAI and, eventually, other non-profit arts tenants; negotiated the lease/purchase of the buliding; 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.