A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for tomorrow night on the gateway project at East Passyunk, Broad and McKean, which was announced with much fanfare in January 2014.
The sparse plaza will be torn up to turn that little wedge into more-usable “flex” space, complete with what is becoming a common refrain for avenue projects: seating, better lighting and improved landscaping.
Construction had been slated to begin last May, after a $500,ooo grant from the William Penn Foundation was released. But Sam Sherman of the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation, which is spearheading the project, said bids for construction kept coming in too high, delaying the start.
That means they decided to remove plans for a fountain that was part of the original proposal.
“It was just blowing up the budget,” Sherman said. “That was one of the big things that delayed it. I kept putting it out to bid, and every time I put it out, it kept going up. Even the lowest bid, it just wan’t practical.”
Another noticeable change is the lack of a docking station for the city’s new bike share program, Indigo. Sherman said that midway through the planning process, the city increased the dimensions required to host a station, meaning that there wouldn’t be enough room.
Now, they have relocated the pavilion, putting it in the center of the plaza rather than off to the side, and plan to flood the intersection with lighting, including on the wall of the Citizens Bank across McKean.
“We have a couple different schemes,” he said. “The pavilion’s going to be really nice, and lit it really unusual way. We’re looking at undulating colors, so there will be movement there. No fountain but the lights will sort of mimic the movement of water. And there will still be benches, there’ll still be tables.”
They hope to complete the project by June, around the same time the Mifflin Street triangle a block up is supposed to be finished with, you guessed it, more seating, better lighting and improved landscaping.
Here’s a look at the old plans:
Sherman noted that by the end of this summer, PARC will have invested $6.2 million in real estate development and public space improvements in the immediate neighborhood since the organization’s inception in 2011.
So, what do you think of the design changes?