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Pullen Arts Center getting multi-million dollar makeover beginning in 2017

Posted October 27

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— The Pullen Arts Center in Raleigh's Pullen Park is on the verge of getting a multi-million dollar makeover.

The art center has served the community for more than 50 years, but electrical problems, plumbing issues and a growing population have prompted necessary change.

Melinda "Bird" Wilson said she calls the art center her sanctuary. She began visiting the center in 2003 after her son died and has been coming by nearly every day since.

"You can grow here, make pottery, make friends. It's a learning environment," Wilson said.

In addition to Wilson, thousands of other people frequent the Pullen Arts Center for classes and summer camps.

"The city has been growing considerably, and the arts have been expanding five to ten fold more," said Project Manager James Marapoti.

Using 2014 park bond money, the city is creating its own art with a $6 million renovation. The plan will add nearly 10,000 square feet of new space, including outdoor art space.

"We're going to have more parking, more convenient parking for users," Marapoti said.

The plan connects the art center to the Greg Museum and Theater in the park.

Officials said construction could start sometime next year, but the center will likely have to shut down before summer 2017, and will stay closed for about a year.

The move is leaving many artists scrambling for studio space, but they understand creating something special takes time.

"I have a little home studio. It doesn't have nearly as many tools as this one does," said Melanie Walker.

"While we're sad it's going to be shut down so long, we know it will be worth the wait," Danielle Cozart said.

Any community members looking to share their thoughts on the project or ask questions can attend a meeting Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pullen Community Center.

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