It's been almost three years since Pearl Art & Craft Supplies at 417 South St. closed their doors. Since then, the building has sat empty. And while vacancy was de rigueur on South Street a few years ago, its resurgence of late that makes this large empty retail space stick out like a bit of a sore thumb. Thankfully, it seems that plans are in the works to make this building return to life.
Signs on the building suggest that a South Street Arts Center will soon be arriving here, with a planned opening in June. Passyunk Post provides more details. Eighty-five studios will be crammed in here over three stories, with space starting at $250/month for 140 sqft. The roof will have a restaurant (makes venting easy) and a sculpture garden. Studio space will be available for painters, photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, textile workers, woodworkers, sculptors, jewelers, ceramics-makers, potters, and other visual artists. There are plans to completely rework the facade, but the initial setup calls for a simple tidying up of the existing building front.
This project is wonderful news for a vacant building and fabulous news for South Street in general. We wonder what kind of response the operators of the Arts Center have gotten from local artists to this point. Certainly, there are less expensive options to be found in more far-flung parts of town, but perhaps some artists are willing to pay the premium for such a fantastic location. Also- have folks who live near here or pass by on a regular basis noticed any work taking place? The timeframe for opening in June seems pretty aggressive to us, though crazier things have happened. Hopefully, the Center will receive overwhelming interest and it will be a smashing success. Can't wait to visit the rooftop garden/restaurant.