By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 05, 2018 at 2:01 PM

Arts @ Large kicked off the renovation of its new Walker’s Point home Tuesday morning with a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderman José Perez and members of the Arts @ Large Board of Directors.

The project will transform the historic Patrick Cudahy Building, 1100 S. 5th St., into a new community center that will help the organization better serve the thousands of Milwaukee Public Schools students, teachers, families, artist educators and community members it works with each year.

We took you inside the building and its history last autumn in this Urban Spelunking installment.

The new space will allow Arts @ Large to create a student art gallery, art studios, a training center, conference rooms, office space for itself but also for Reflo Sustainable Water Systems and three other area nonprofits and small businesses, a public event space, a cafe and a catering kitchen.

There will also be an art lending library, allowing community members to check out original artworks at no cost to hang in their homes.

"Arts @ Large Board and staff are incredibly excited to announce the construction kick-off of our historic building renovation project," said Founder and CEO Teri Sullivan.

"We are incredibly excited to revitalize this building and honor its history as a vibrant community center."

The nearly $6 million project is being funded with more than $1 million in private contributions, as well as with New Markets Tax Credits and Federal and State Historic Tax Credits.

Rockwell Automation also donated a free longterm lease for Arts @ Large to utilize a nearby parking lot that it owns.

Arts @ Large continues to raise funds and is still working to gather about $1.4 million for the community center project, which was designed by TKWA Architects and is being built by Catalyst Construction.

The plan is to complete the project by the end of this year, with a soft opening expected next April and a public grand opening to follow in July 2019.

As part of the project, students from nearby Lynde and Harry Bradley Technology and Trade School are shadowing the architects and contractors and will participate in the building’s renovation. They will learn about real estate and financing, conceptual planning, architectural drawings, bidding and proposal processes, green infrastructure, construction processes, building inspection and more.

"The funds from PNC Bank’s nearly $2 million NMTC equity investment will also help energize the community with a fresh, new space for residents to enjoy and where early stage not-for-profits can grow. Additionally, the PNC Foundation has supported Arts @ Large with several educational grants to encourage arts-integrated curriculum for several thousand Milwaukee Public Schools students."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.