AVENUE OF THE ARTS PLAN
South Broad Street contains one of downtown Philadelphia’s major concentrations of office and retail uses. The area houses the headquarters of many of the city’s largest banks hotels, office buildings and retail shopping areas. However, the area also contains a number of the city’s most important cultural and artistic institutions which has led to its being designated as Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts. The Avenue is home to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pennsylvania Ballet and the University of the Arts. Recognizing the importance of cultural facilities to the economic development of the downtown, the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation retained Urban Partners and Kise Franks & Straw (now Kise Straw & Kolodner) to develop a master plan for the area. Urban Partners conducted a comparative analysis of arts districts (and their organizational structure) around the country and performed market research for a variety of cultural, retail, educational, office and housing development opportunities. Special attention was given to the potential for using cultural facilities as a catalyst for the revitalization of the adjacent low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.
The plan recommended development of a number of facilities, including a high school for the performing arts, office and residential development and other cultural facilities. The plan called for over $400 million in development over 10 years, to be funded by local, state, federal, philanthropic and corporate sources. The Avenue of the Arts concept received wide support and became one of Philadelphia’s major economic development projects of the 1990s. Most of the plan’s proposed facilities, including the ArtsBank, the Wilma Theater, the Clef Club, the High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and the Avenue’s centerpiece development – the Kimmel Regional Performing Arts Center -- have been completed and significant private investment in the form of office rehabilitation, hotel, retail and restaurant development has occurred.