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The Bellwether District Update 03/01/22

Hilco Redevelopment Partners & Mural Arts Philadelphia Forge A Multi-Year Partnership

Mural Arts Philadelphia, in partnership with Hilco Redevelopment Partners (HRP), today announced a new two-year partnership to financially support Mural Arts' Restorative Justice program with a $50,000 grant. As a sponsor of Restorative Justice's Women's Reentry Program, which provides justice-involved women with job readiness training, family resources, professional development, and other educational resources through the vehicle of art, HRP's support will enable women returning from incarceration to complete the program and further develop meaningful life and professional skills. The initiative will also support the creation of new public works of art, and community-centered educational programming, all part of the Restorative Justice program's approach to helping returning citizens successfully reacclimate.

HRP, which acquired the 1,300-acre former PES oil refinery in South Philadelphia, PA in July of 2020, takes a community-focused approach to redevelopment, connecting to local communities through open dialogue, civic participation, neighbor-centric planning, and community initiatives—from local apprenticeships to scholarship programs. HRP is transforming the property, now called The Bellwether District, into a state-of-the-art, 15-million square-foot life sciences, e-commerce, and logistics campus.

HRP's vision of creating a community-focused, environmentally responsible commercial hub aligns with Mural Arts' goals of eradicating environmental hazards that disproportionately affect marginalized communities in Philadelphia, especially communities of color, through the transformative power of creativity. HRP has also focused considerable resources on workforce development since the company first purchased the former PES Refinery in June 2020 and  has provided internships, job  shadowing opportunities and pre-apprenticeship training to more than 500 Philadelphians to date.

The partnership emerged in part from discussions about the dismantling of a beloved mural by artist Paul Santoleri as part of the site's transformation from a refinery to The Bellwether District. "It's always sad to see a mural go away. Murals often are temporary," said Jane Golden, Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia. "But the good news is through this partnership with HRP, we will make an impact for generations to come. We are so enthusiastic about having HRP work with our Restorative Justice Program and our organizations' aligned vision to use art to ignite long-lasting change."

In commenting on the partnership, Roberto Perez, CEO of HRP said, "This partnership allows us to make a meaningful difference in the lives of returning citizens with a focus on women as they participate in work readiness and life skills training, among other programing. We are deeply committed to the Philadelphia community, its students, and workforce, and are pleased to be working with Mural Arts Philadelphia to demonstrate that in a tangible way."

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