News From the Center City District
(November 16, 2011) – Today, the Center City District (CCD) awarded a general construction contract for the renovation of Dilworth Plaza to the Daniel J. Keating Company of Narberth, PA (www.djkeating.com). The firm has extensive experience working with SEPTA on major transportation projects, a key component of the Dilworth Plaza renovation, as well as familiarity with City Hall itself, because of the firm’s recent experience with the renovation of this National Historic Landmark. Keating also has worked on other major landmarks, such as the renovation of Independence Hall, the construction of the Liberty Bell Center, and has joint ventured on the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Requests for bids were publicly advertised in The Philadelphia Inquirer,Daily News, and Philadelphia Tribune in the first week of August 2011. Nine proposals were received by the due date of September 20, 2011. Based on a competitive evaluation system developed in compliance with all federal, state, and local requirements, five of the nine proposers were deemed to rank in the competitive range and were interviewed in mid-October by Gilbane Building Company, CCD’s owner’s representative, and Urban Engineers, CCD’s lead design-team consultant. The Daniel J. Keating Company ranked as the most responsive and competitive proposer. Construction, which is expected to take 27 months, will commence shortly and will employ approximately 800 construction workers. Because the project is receiving federal funding, it is subject to federal equal opportunity employment and minority and disadvantaged business requirements and will adhere to all city, state, and federal requirements for minority, female, and disabled participation.
The CCD has a long-term (30-year) lease with the City for Dilworth Plaza to construct, maintain, and manage the Plaza. The CCD will assume all cleaning, site- and landscape-maintenance responsibilities for the Plaza. The $50 million renovation project is supported by a $15 million grant from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, a $15.5 million grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, $5 million from the City’s capital program, $4.3 million from SEPTA, and a variety of foundation, corporate, and private contributions. The new Dilworth Plaza was designed by KieranTimberlake architects, OLIN landscape architects, and Urban Engineers.
Dilworth Plaza will be transformed from an inaccessible, multi-level, unattractive, hard-surface plaza into a sustainable, well-maintained, green public space with no stairs or barriers from the street. By covering existing openings and removing walls, steps, and barriers that make the plaza inaccessible today, the renovated Dilworth Plaza will add 20,571 square feet of new usable area (an increase of 21%) and will result in an expanded 120,557-square-foot public space. The new plaza will have a large lawn, tree groves, a programmable fountain, and space for 400 benches and chairs. The concourse beneath Dilworth Plaza will be dramatically improved as a new transit gateway, providing entrances to Broad Street and Market Street subways and the trolley lines. New elevators will make the transit platforms accessible for the first time.
During winter, a portable ice rink will cover 9,300 square feet, or 8% of the plaza’s total surface area. A café building at the north end will occupy 1,171 square feet, or 1%, of the surface area, and the revenues from this café will be used to maintain the plaza in the same way that revenues from Café Cret, at 16th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, are used to maintain that landscaped, public park.
Planning and design for the Dilworth Plaza project began in 2008, and more than 50 meetings were held with various stakeholder groups who reviewed and commented on its design. Following publicly advertised open meetings of the City of Philadelphia’s Art and Historical Commissions, City Planning Commission, and City Council, the project was formally approved.