Reach for the Sky

by David Patrick Stearns

It was declared unfeasible, unnecessary, and impossible. But now it's here: Philadelphia's new Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts lets a city dream big.

The Kimmel Center's ambitious scale has inspired anticipation, anxiety, and no small measure of civic pride. Here are the numbers:

Cost - $265 million
Ground area - 2.3 acres, a full city block
Glass area (vault) - 3.6 acres
Theaters - 3
Companies in residence - 8
Seats - 3,150
Doors - 594

And then there's the economic impact. A memo posted on the Web last summer made these projections for a fully operational Kimmel Center:

Jobs created-1,350 as a result of performance activity
Annual spending impact-$73 million
Annual state tax revenue-$2.4 million in income and sales taxes
Annual city tax revenue-$3.1 million in wage, sales, parking, hotel, amusement, and gross receipts taxes

In addition, the three-year construction period generated 4,800 jobs, nearly $15 million in state and city tax receipts, and a total spending impact of $325 million.