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PHILADELPHIA-As he prepares to exit City Hall in January, Mayor John Street has handed out $68.6 million in grants to 24 cultural institutions, primarily to support expansion and/or renovation of building assets. It is part of Street’s Cultural Corridors Grant program that was funded through a $150-million bond issue, proposed by the mayor and approved by the city council in late 2006.

With $30 million, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is the biggest beneficiary. The grant supports its 10-year, $500-million capital campaign to create a new 80,000-sf underground gallery in the main building, renovate the existing 633,835-sf structure and add a 400-space underground parking garage.

The Please Touch Museum received $3.5 million for its renovation of the 129-year-old Memorial Hall building in Fairmont Park. The museum that now occupies approximately 68,000 sf in adjacent buildings at N. 21st Street is relocating to the historic, 157,000-sf Beaux Arts landmark under an 80-year lease, which it obtained for an aggregate of one dollar from the City Commission of Public Property. Nancy Kolb, the museum’s president and CEO, estimates costs at $35 million for relocation, $13 million for exhibits and $10 million in building retrofits.

The Fairmont Park Commission received $2.5 million to develop a walking and biking path to link institutions along the Centennial District. They include the Museum of Art, Please Touch, the Philadelphia Zoo and the Mann Center for the Performing Arts. The Mann received $1.5 million to help complete its $35-million renovation.

Among the additional recipients are the Pennsylvania Ballet, which plans a new facility on the Avenue of the Arts; the zoo; Independence National Park, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. The Asian Arts Initiative received $1 million to help facilitate its move from the Gilbert Building, which is being razed to make way for expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

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