Michael Garden, vice president of Friends of the Rail Park, said the broad reach of PHS and the pop-up garden will bring people to the neighborhood and help them visualize the possibilities for the rail park.
“The temporary garden is the kind of atmosphere that we would like to see at certain locations on the site when it’s completed,” said Garden.
Garden said he’s hoping that phase one of the rail park
, a quarter mile stretch between Broad and Callowhill Streets, will break ground before the end of the year — but his organization is still waiting to hear back from the state on grant applications that would secure additional funding for the park.
A diamond in the rough
In Pennsylvania, there are about 400,000 vacant properties according to the 2010 U.S. Census — one tenth of those lots are in Philadelphia.
The PHS pop-up gardens in Philadelphia take up only two of those parcels. PHS, in partnership with the city, manages about 12,000 others as community gardens and passive green spaces.
To transform the parking lot into a pop-up garden, PHS received a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage for about $360,000 and received other contributions from Arts & Crafts Holdings, the owners of the lot.
Although the pop-up is temporary, Craig Grossman, a partner with Arts & Crafts Holdings, said he’s hoping to keep some of the infrastructure to have the lot remain an active green space.
“We think that’s what the future looks like here,” said Grossman. “We think this will be the building block of something more permanent.”
The PHS Pop Up Garden at the Viaduct Rail Park will be open through Sept. 30 from Monday to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. to midnight, and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.
This piece was originally published on Keystone Crossroads, a project exploring the urgent challenges facing Pennsylvania’s cities through collaborative journalism at four public media stations. WHYY is the hub of this project.