Dilworth Plaza wins zoning approval

The Center City District’s Dilworth Plaza project sailed through an administrative hurdle Wednesday, winning a variance required to start construction.

At issue was plans to build a water feature on the plaza, which is currently a two-level concrete entranceway to SEPTA’s largest station. In the winter, the CCD wants to use the space as an ice skating rink. It also plans on holding outdoor concerts in the venue.

While CCD attorney Bernard B. Kolodner told the Zoning Board of Adjustment that he believes the zoning code permits these activities, the Department of Licenses and Inspections disagreed on his interpretation and rejected those proposed uses.

In response to a question from commission chairwoman Lynette Brown-Sow, CCD head Paul Levy said that “high-quality” portable bathrooms would be brought into the space for skating. A proposed cafe will also contain bathrooms.

Prior to the hearing, the CCD addressed an additional L&I concern about the cafe and where trash is being stored and didn’t require a variance.

Though the city retains ownership of the plaza, which is located right outside City Hall, the CCD has taken the lead with an ambitious plan to redevelop the area, winning an $8 million federal stimulus grant for the work, which also includes adding elevators to make part of the transit concourse below acceptable.

The end result will be “essentially Rittenhouse Square” brought to the city’s administrative heart, Levy told the board.

The variance was granted unanimously.

Earlier this month, the project won Art Commission approval ― a necessary step because it’s being built on public land.

Contact the reporter at acampisi@planphilly.com

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