Video: Venice Island Rec Center building gets torn down

Demolition crews began taking down the old Venice Island Recreation Center at about 7 a.m. Tuesday, pulling apart the overhang, cracking through the roof and nudging cinder-block walls to the ground.

By about 10 a.m., it was done, the small building reduced to several piles of metal, concrete and wood, to be carted away as construction begins on the long-awaited new Venice Island.

The two-year project involves two major components: First, the Philadelphia Water Department will install a four million-gallon storm water retention basin under the parking lot area on the Lock Street side of the site. During that time, public parking will move to the Cotton Street side, and trucks will carry out about 6,000 loads of soil and debris excavated from the basin through Lock Street, crossing a newly reinforced bridge.

Once the tank, a new pumping station with a green roof, and parking lot are complete, work will shift sides. On the Cotton Street end of the island, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department will replace the old rec center, pool, playground and athletic courts, first opened in 1960.

In their place will be a spray ground, new hockey and basketball courts, play structures and seating, and a 250-seat amphitheater-style performing arts center.

No date has been set yet for a formal groundbreaking on the new site. A detailed look at the plans, a joint project of PWD, Parks and Rec and the Manayunk Development Corp., can be found here.

Contact Amy Z. Quinn at

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