Southwest Philly recreation center to receive $25 million makeover

The Kingsessing playground will receive a complete redo, including an athletic field, a new HVAC system, and ADA-compliant equipment.


The Kingsessing Recreation Center is getting a massive overhaul. (Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

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A $25 million overhaul of the Kingsessing Recreation Center is now underway. When it’s finished, the facility will have a new artificial turf athletic field and other major upgrades including a new heating and air conditioning system along with accessibility upgrades to the historic facility.

Councilmember Jamie Gauthier grew up down the street from the center and said it’s a neighborhood hub.

“No rebuild site in my councilmatic district is more beloved and complicated, and central to the community than Kingsessing Rec,” Gauthier said. “Even with the pool temporarily closed, even though there’s been scaffolding around here for a while, you would be pressed to find a more active and vibrant public space.”

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Rebuild Philadelphia leader Kira Strong said this facility will be transformed with all the work that is going to be done.

“You’re going to see a brand new façade, new windows, and entirely renovated interior, ADA accessibility, new bathrooms, new HVAC. It’s just gonna look and feel phenomenal, beautiful, it’s what you all deserve.”

Konie Crews is a neighborhood leader who says she’s pleased to see the changes, but she also scolded officials a bit.

“This is so exciting that it’s finally going to happen, it’s been six years, we were number one and now we’re number 60, but we’re going to be grateful and appreciate it, and we’re going to be back here in 12 months, not 18.”

Officials said the extensive design process did push the project’s groundbreaking back a bit. The neighborhood’s library is also receiving a $7 million refurb as part of the new plan.

The Philadelphia Eagles are also joining with the NFL Foundation to put up $250,000 for a turf field at the facility.  Team President Don Smolenski spoke about the importance of the team participating in community events.

“This site is majestic,” he said. “It’ll be amazing to see that beauty shine through in 12 to 18 months from now through the NFL Foundation matching and grassroots grants.”

The Eagles have donated more than $4.1 million in renovations to 21 community-based field projects over the years.

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The timetable for the renovations is between 12 and 18 months.

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