Dilworth Plaza rebirth finally at hand [photos]

    Better late than never.

    Philadelphia City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza is finally reopening on Sept. 4 after two-and-a-half years of construction. It was initially expected to be completed this spring. 

    The site is getting a dramatic makeover with fountains, an ice skating rink, improved green space, and a café run by renowned restaurateur Jose Garces. It also has a new name: Dilworth Park.

    “The word ‘park’ speaks to a much more green, sustainable site,” said Paul Levy, CEO of the nonprofit Center City District, which managed the project. “‘Plaza’ to us speaks to the old, kind of hard surfaces that we’re looking to replace.”

    Garces said his café, Rosa Blanca, will be “Cuban-inspired.” Seating about 60 people, it will serve pastries, freshly-roasted coffee, sandwiches, empanadas and salads, as well as alcoholic beverages on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays.

    “There’s a lot of great hand-held items that we can serve on the square that are easily transportable,” said Garces. “Great for lounging, great for snacking.”

    The café will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

    Through the fall, Dilworth Park be the site of an extensive lineup of events, including film screenings, lunchtime concerts and a pop-up fashion market.

    Other highlights of the project include a revamped concourse level featuring brand-new lighting, elevators and signage, as well as a series of panels telling the story of former Mayor Richardson Dilworth, the park’s namesake, and the area surrounding City Hall.

    Hearkening back to ‘centre square’

    Levy said the renovations were done with the Philadelphia founder William Penn in mind.

    “This project has been determined from the beginning to be designed to be a link space to connect what is 20 years of improvements on the Avenue of the Arts to the recent expansion of the Convention Center on North Broad Street,” he said, “and a central gathering space and the original ‘centre square’ that William Penn designed for the city.”

    The Center City District, which has been lauded for its squeaky-clean upkeep of the Center City area, is responsible for the maintenance of Dilworth Park. The nonprofit has an essentially free, 30-year lease for the area with the city government.

    A small portion of the park’s surface, including the lawn, will not be completed until October.

    Levy said the project ran late due to snow, unforeseen issues underground and other complications.

    “We hit old foundations, pipes, duct banks. When you find a duct bank when you’re excavating, you don’t just cut into it,” he said. “Could be live. Could be water. Could be power.”

    The roughly $55 million Dilworth Plaza project was mostly financed by taxpayers, with $15 million coming from the federal government, $16 million from the state, $6 million from the city, and $4 million from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Private donors, including the William Penn Foundation, also contributed nearly $14 million.

    The project was originally expected to cost $50 million. Levy said the construction led to the creation of more than 800 jobs.

    News of the reopening spread last week when the organizers of the pop-up fashion market posted on Facebook that they were holding an event at Dilworth Plaza in September.

    Hi Nora,

     

    I’d like to add a few paragraphs to the Dilworth story. Could you please look this over and post it when you get a chance? Thanks!

     

    Better late than never.

     

    Philadelphia City Hall’s Dilworth Plaza is finally reopening on Sept. 4 after two-and-a-half years of construction. It was initially expected to be completed this spring.

     

    The site is getting a dramatic makeover with fountains, an ice skating rink, improved green space, and a café run by renowned restaurateur Jose Garces. It also has a new name: Dilworth Park.

     

    “The word ‘park’ speaks to a much more green, sustainable site,” said Paul Levy, CEO of the nonprofit Center City District, which managed the project. “‘Plaza’ to us speaks to the old, kind of hard surfaces that we’re looking to replace.”

     

    Garces said his café, Rosa Blanca, will be “Cuban-inspired.” Seating about 60 people, it will serve pastries, freshly-roasted coffee, sandwiches, empanadas and salads, as well as alcohol on weekends and after 5 p.m. on weekdays.

     

    “There’s a lot of great hand-held items that we can serve on the square that are easily transportable,” said Garces. “Great for lounging, great for snacking.”

     

    The café will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

    Through the fall, Dilworth Park be the site of an extensive lineup of events, including film screenings, lunchtime concerts and a pop-up fashion market.

     

    Other highlights of the project include a revamped concourse level featuring brand-new lighting, elevators and signage, as well as a series of panels telling the story of former Mayor Richardson Dilworth, the park’s namesake, and the area surrounding City Hall.

     

    Levy said the renovations were done with the Philadelphia founder William Penn in mind.

     

    “This project has been determined from the beginning to be designed to be a link space to connect what is 20 years of improvements on the Avenue of the Arts to the recent expansion of the Convention Center on North Broad Street,” he said, “and a central gathering space and the original ‘centre square’ that William Penn designed for the city.”

     

    The Center City District, which has been lauded for its squeaky-clean upkeep of the Center City area, is responsible for the maintenance of Dilworth Park. The nonprofit has an essentially free, 30-year lease for the area with the city government.

     

    A small portion of the park’s surface, including the lawn, will not be completed until October.

     

    Levy said the project ran late due to snow, unforeseen issues underground and other complications.

     

    “We hit old foundations, pipes, duct banks. When you find a duct bank when you’re excavating, you don’t just cut into it,” he said. “Could be live. Could be water. Could be power.”

     

    The roughly $55 million Dilworth Plaza project was mostly financed by taxpayers, with $15 million coming from the federal government, $16 million from the state, $6 million from the city, and $4 million from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority. Private donors, including the William Penn Foundation, also contributed nearly $14 million.

    The project was originally expected to cost $50 million.

    News of the re-opening was leaked last week when the organizers of the pop-up fashion market posted on Facebook that they were holding an event at Dilworth Plaza in September.

     

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