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$200M Renovation Unveiled for South Philly’s FDR Park

Posted on June 6, 2019

After a year of meetings, surveys, and a lot of public engagement, Philly officials have finally unveiled a new, $200 million master plan to turn South Philly’s FDR Park into an ‘urban oasis.’

The plan for the remake of the 100-year-old park was revealed last week, and it focuses heavily on preserving the existing nature and architecture of the park, while also bringing new amenities and spaces that draw in more visitors, according a statement from the Fairmount Park Conservancy.

“The extensive community feedback revealed that South Philly and FDR Park users most valued opportunities to connect with nature and to enjoy safe walking and biking trails,” the statement said.

The Fairmount Park Conservancy divided the master plan into two categories. The first, Ecological Core, focuses on preserving and highlighting the natural elements of the park:

  • Create elevated boardwalks, a picnic grove, and access points for fishing and paddling around the lakes.
  • Restore a 40-acre wetland on the southwestern portion of the park, with access to trails and nature.
  • Expand Shed Brook Creek—a little-known creek in the park—for visitors to kayak and explore.
  • Complete The Hill—a public space rising 36 feet above the park with views of the park, the skyline, and the rivers.

The second category, Urban Edge, focuses on amenities to draw more visitors of all ages to the park:

  • The Franklin 5K, a 3.1-mile trail that loops through the park and connects visitors to the various aspects of the park.
  • Create a “great lawn” where visitors can picnic, lounge, and host events.
  • Complete The Fields—three clusters of athletic fields that include tennis courts, basketball courts (new for the park), and play space.

The master plan for the 348-acre park came about after years of flooding and use, “(took) a toll on its infrastructure and environmental integrity,” according to a statement from the Fairmount Park Conservancy last year. In the spring of 2018, the conservancy announced that they would be seeking public input for ways to improve the park.

Over the last year, they’ve spoken with 3,000 community members through surveys, public meetings, canvassing, and workshops. The master plan was designed by Philly-based firm WRT Design.

The conservancy is looking toward funding from local, state, and federal agencies as well as private donors to pay the estimated $200 million cost of park renovations, the statement said. So far, they’ve seen support from the William Penn Foundation, and from the Philadelphia International Airport, which is interested in helping restore the wetlands. It’s unclear when the park master plan will be completed. For now, check out some of the renderings of the site below.

Renderings by WRT, courtesy Fairmount Park Conservancy. Original article written by Anna Merriam for Curbed Philly

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