SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - A transformation of a popular green space receives a needed boost as South Philadelphia's FDR Park will welcome residents and out-of-town travelers alike with a new Welcome Center and a children’s play area, city officials announced.
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced Tuesday $4.5 million in new funding for the new projects at the popular park. Working in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program and the Fairmount Park Conservancy, the city hopes to transform FDR Park into a world-class tourist destination, as well as providing greater resources for residents who already enjoy the South Philadelphia park.
In the first phase of the city’s FDR Park renaissance master plan, the 5,500 square foot guardhouse at the park’s Broad Street and Pattison Avenue entrance will be restored into a Welcome Center. The Welcome Center will contain a staffed information center, a courtyard which will offer shopping and restrooms and a place to rent equipment. Beyond that, the additional plans will turn the existing stables into a 6,700 square foot event space and a 4,000 square foot café, all overlooking the Pattison Lagoon.
"We know from speaking with over 3,000 residents in seven languages that when families visit FDR, they want to stay longer and do more," said Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation. "The Welcome Center will provide the basic amenities that allow visitors to extend their stay, and so much more with dining, event and education space, and community workspaces."
Along with the Welcome Center, officials hope to create a playground and picnic area to extend the outdoor life residents already enjoy, as well as bring in new tourists and regional residents who may not know the beauty of FDR Park in its current form.
The Children’s Play Area will be set among mature trees. It will feature high quality play elements and will incorporate the natural features of the landscape to showcase barrier-free paths, hills and planted spaces. The area will be located near the Welcome Center.
The new projects will build upon the transformation the city has already begun in FDR Park, including improving bike lanes, paving roads, bringing in over 100 regular volunteers and staff for the park.
"Families in South Philadelphia know and rely upon the fresh air and green space at FDR Park," said Philadelphia City Councilmember Kenyatta Johnson (Second District), whose Council District includes FDR Park. "From family gatherings, to celebrations in the Boathouse or marathon training along the loop road, FDR has something for everyone."
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