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Millennium Dance Complex To Transform South Street's Pearl

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Photos Lauren Mame Thomas


It looks like we'll be seeing a new breath of fresh air at the former Pearl Arts & Crafts building at 417 South Street. Millennium Dance Complex Philadelphia (MDC Philly) will open an 39,000 square-foot dance, art and fitness center in two phases, the first one by Black Friday. Owned by Lori Ramsay Long and Terry and Robert Ramsay, MDC Philly promises to hold classes taught by high-profile professional choreographers who have worked with all the biggies — including Beiber, Justin Timberlake, Usher and Beyonce. Damn. The focus will be on classes for all skill levels and ages. This is cool news. A few years back, the space was slated to become artist studios and a restaurant, then nothing. Now, the first order of business is to transform the 9,000 square-foot ground floor space into a true dance studio. With windows looking out onto South St., the first floor will have four dance studios, two with hardwood sprung floors and two with marley sprung flooring. Remember that cool sign Pearl had? Well, each studio on the first floor will be identified by one of those letters in the sign. The project gives Long a chance get all nostalgic while bringing back a South Street institution. She said in a press release:

"The Pearl Arts & Crafts Building always has had a spot in my heart. I have fond memories from college days when I took fine arts and the Pearl was "the" place to go for supplies. I also love that the building was built over 100 years ago and has endured all the changes in the city. I want to bring life back into this iconic building." The rest of phase one include renovated the basement (7,000 sq. ft.) into a workout space complete with an indoor running track. The second floor will include a childcare facility for parents taking classes.

The third floor will boast floor-to-ceiling Philly inspired street art (what up, Fresh Prince?) and be primarily used a space for photo ad video shoots for the choreographers, celebrities and dancers. Same goes for the roof. Originally slated to be a restaurant space in previous plans, it's 5,000 sq. ft. of open air space with skyline views. Yeah, we could see a music video being shot on the roof.

Phase two won't happen until 2015 and will include honing the uses on the second and third floors, which could eventually become a retail/spa space and an event space in the future.
· South Street Arts Center with studios, rooftop restaurant proposed for old Pearl building [Passyunk Post]