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PHILADELPHIA-Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development issued a bond of nearly $10.8 million to fund land assembly and pre-construction costs for renovation of the existing 300,000-sf Free Central Library and construction of a 160,000-sf addition to the building at 1901 Vine St. at Logan Circle. City-supported lease revenues back the bond issue under the same leasehold financing structure used to fund Lincoln Financial Field football stadium and Citizens Bank Ballpark.

Under a City Council ordinance, signed by Mayor John Street in December 2004, PAID leases the Central Library to the non-profit library foundation, an act that enables PAID to issue the bond that funds the city’s contribution to the $150-million project. The foundation has raised $7 million, which combines with the initial bond issue for land assembly and design and construction documentation.

As a part of the transaction, PAID also transferred three parcels that it owned in the library’s expansion area to the city. Also under the agreement PAID will issue another $20 million to fund construction costs when the foundation completes the pre-construction phase. That phase is expected to reach completion in December 2006. The foundation is charged with raising the balance of the project’s cost–which has escalated from an initial estimate of $130 million since December 2004–plus $10 million for an endowment.

The architect for the addition is Moshe Safdie, whose Sommerville, MA-based firm designed the Boston Museum, Ben Gurian National Airport in Israel and China’s Quangdong Science Center. The existing Free Library building was completed in 1927. The renovation calls for restoration of its original high-ceilinged reading rooms. The entire project will not only provide additional space for the library’s growing collection, which includes electronic media, but also will create spaces especially designed for children and teens.

The Free Library project is among several plans under way for the stretch of the Ben Franklin Parkway from Logan Circle to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Among them is relocation of the Barnes Collection from Lower Merion and a planned Calder Museum.

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