Over the years, Nicholas Kripal has seen several of his studio spaces converted into condominiums. After being moved twice against his will, Kripal knew he needed something more permanent. Partnering with Richard Hricko, a fellow artist and professor at Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and David Gleeson, a developer with a particular interest in the arts, Kripal began the search for the perfect studio and gallery space.
They found it at the Crane Plumbing Company, a former factory and warehouse built in 1905 in Old Kensington, a neighborhood that had seen its industries leave and disinvestment follow, leaving vacant warehouses and homes.
Kripal and his partners formed Crane Arts LLC and bought the building and its adjacent stable in 2004 with plans to redesign the old warehouse around the needs of artists. TRF provided a predevelopment loan for the first phase of this project. Over the next two years, the partners poured themselves into the project, successfully redefining the 1400 block of American Street with four stories of artist work spaces and a gallery.
In 2006, after the first tenants had set up their studios, Crane Arts LLC approached TRF for take-out financing that would settle their outstanding debt and help them complete their renovations. Using its New Markets Tax Credit program, TRF was able to provide $4.2 million in financing.
The Crane Arts project was a perfect fit for TRF, which views the arts as critical to the health of a community and invests in projects with the potential to catalyze revitalization in various Philadelphia neighborhoods. TRF had hoped to finance a project of scale in the neighborhood that would build off other investments in the area; Crane Arts was just that project.
Today, Crane Arts is a thriving arts center with 39 workspaces and studios for different artistic mediums, rooms for three arts organizations, and space for community events. In addition to sponsoring emerging artists and graduate art students through fellowships, the center also encourages residents in their neighborhood to use their buildings for weekend art classes for local children and as a meeting place for nonprofit organizations.