I Wanna Know

PW exposes the tricks, scams and truth about the powers that be.

By Heather Duffy
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 2, 2004

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Q: The University of the Arts has made vast improvements to the facade of the Terra Building. However, the work stopped years ago above the first-floor storefronts. The building looks unfinished. Is the project ever going to be completed?

A: Perhaps the letter writer hasn't been by the Terra Building in a while. UArts spokesperson Jennifer Leckstrom describes the project as a "total restoration" of the building. "As far as I know it's been completed on the outside," she says. And for the most part she's right. Externally, the part of the building the school occupies--floors two through 17--is complete. The ground floor, the one most often seen by people on Broad Street, is the only one yet to be refurbished. Jan DeVries, director of the president's office at UArts, offers some specifics about the building and the renovation project. The building is named after Daniel J. Terra, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for cultural affairs during the Reagan administration. UArts owns the entire building, including the basement and sub-basement, and the stores that occupy the ground level rent space from the school. The University acquired the Terra Building, at 211 S. Broad St., in 1997 and began construction in fall 1998, says DeVries. "The second through the 17th floors were completely gutted and renovated." In the fall of 1999 the University moved academic facilities, including dance studios, darkrooms and gallery space, into 10 of the floors. A year later floors eight and nine were completed. "At the moment, we're seeking state funding in order to begin construction of the Skyline Performing Arts Center on floors 16 and 17," says DeVries. "We have yet to set a schedule for renovation of the remaining floors: five, 10 and 13." That takes care of the building's insides, which weren't actually in question. So here's what's happening externally. "They replaced the facade to match what was there originally," she says of floors two through five. "They were too cheap to take off the back of the building, but it was good since we were able to make molds out of it." DeVries says there's no time frame for the first-floor renovations, and the school's got a good excuse: "We're waiting on SEPTA." DeVries says SEPTA is planning to add access for people with disabilities to the Walnut-Locust subway entrance that's also part of the Terra Building's ground floor.

What do you wanna know? Send queries and complaints to Heather M. Duffy at hduffy@philadelphiaweekly.com

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