East Passyunk gateway project set to break ground tomorrow, with updated renderings
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?
46 thoughts on “East Passyunk gateway project set to break ground tomorrow, with updated renderings”
East Passyunk, Broad and *McKean*
Whoops, duh. Thanks!
No matter what the final design is does not matter if there is not commitment to long term maintanence. Sadly there probably is not.
I’m sure the new plans will be great and I’m excited for them, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little disappointed the old ones didn’t work out as they were just awesome. Regardless, will be interesting to see how this works out so close to Boad and Snyder
Agreed — there was straight-up dancing in the original plans!
Now there’s just strolling, which is nice and all, but where are we gonna shake a leg in the new plan?
The new renderings are doing nothing for me. Bring back the bike share station, that makes more sense than this.
“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.”
Just keep it clean. Am I missing something that welcomes them to East Passyunk?
It’s going to look cool at night. But what ab during the day. Seems like a lot of cement which will make it look very bland.
One detail I do miss is the hanging string lights. (I miss them at the fountain too!) Its such a south philly thing it would make a nice entrance to the neighborhood.
Agreed. Those handing string lights would really be cool.
I agree too. That’s such a simple and inexpensive addition that would pack a big punch.
The old was better. except for that jagghole in the mandals with the saxophone. He could’ve been left out of the renderings.
Hopefully this will get the bank to finally fix their noisy, broken sign
No offense, but this looks awful. Please go back to the drawing board…
The plans have stripped out anything that will get people to use the space – no fountain, no bike share and less flexibility. In an attempt to save money, more money is being wasted because the space will not generate the use expected. It will be a boring space with some walls and a weird pillion in the middle, located at a busy intersection. Totally unusable. This space needs/deserves more.
Agreed. And who will crowd under the pavilion all the darn day? I prefer the original plan without the fountain.
That was my feeling as well, the earlier designs make it clear as to what will draw people to the space, this design is too focused on looking impressive from afar but sacrifices the amenities and design that will make the gateway usable.
How about having a left turn lane off of Broad st.
Thats interesting Shawn… A lot of people would love to turn left at either Snyder or McKean/Passyunk…
this is a terrible idea.
I would be *very* interested to see the budget for this project. $500k is a lot for a one-off improvement that adds a couple of lights and little to no green space.
PARC has done projects up and down the Avenue, many of them good and with great benefit to the neighborhood. This was one plan in which they actually incorporated something for kids – the fountain. Unfortunately that element is now gone, another example of the neighborhood’s lack of interest in providing amenities to families. It seems likely that the plaza will be used by only the drunks and junkies that hang at Broad and Snyder. It’s a shame.
The slop they put in on Passyunk at the 16th Street corner is a serious drag… Dirt Island…
A few comments about the new design:
• Too much concrete. Every successful new park space in Philly recently softens a hardscape (i.e. Sister Cities). There is little softening in that design.
• The large ground level planting space is just inviting the whirlpool of trash flying around South Philly every day to take of residence.
• The plaza really needs a 24 hour focal point such as a small fountain to build seating around. Nothing to elaborate to have to upkeep like the present fountain up the avenue, but something tall and simple and easy and reasonable to maintain to catch the eye from Broad St. A gateway should look like a gateway.
• A singular theme could be developed for the length of the Avenue (i.e. small Italian piazzas) for continuity. Utilize the same benches, planters, etc . to create a similar look up and down the commercial corridor. For example, lampposts in front of Le Virtu could be continued along the Avenue.
I agree about the singular theme. Some tasteful lamp lighting would be a whole lot better than what’s in the mock up, which steers the neighborhood even farther towards a knock-off Atlantic City. The development of the Avenue up until recent months has always been nicely understated and sustainable – recent additions are taking it in a direction that is quite the opposite.
They aren’t doing it for the neighbors. It’s for all the visitors to the avenue that spend money and take our parking. 🙂 Most everything on this avenue is way overpriced anymore for me or my family to afford.
Yes KM! Build a parking garage, then we can talk about more restaurants.
Ahh… More fake ProvWitout posts… awesome…
What a shame. It went from really interesting to completely unnecessary. This corner was always kind of questionable, I think this design is just going to make it even more so.
A large sculpture would be fitting to go with the birds in the fountain and Joey G. This design lacks a focal point. I don’t buy the ‘not enough space for a bike share station.’ There’s virtually nothing in this design. Does PARC solicit community input or are they masters of our domain?
Why not put a bike share on South Philly High’s pavement area or even in the lot itself…?
This design makes that ugly bank the focal point. It’s just dumb urban landscaping for the bank.
I am laughing at the different fake people in the mockups. Before you had people doing the samba and kids playing in a fountain, now you have two people shuffling off for quicky by the dumpster on Watts street while a solitary figure contemplates suicide in gathering darkness
There are so many things wrong with this plan, holy crap.
The biggest reason is that there is absolutely no reason anyone will ever go to this stranded little peninsula. It’s surrounded by 3 banks, one of which has a drive-through and parking lot. What is this, Cheltenham? Does this plan include the takeover of said drive-through?
The intersection is not at pedestrian scale.
The singing fountain works because of its scale. It’s surrounded by pedestrian friendly businesses – ton of them – and protected by parked cars. The traffic that goes through is very slow.
Contrast with lack of any parking buffer, a ridiculously complicated and Broad intersection, and zero destinations within a stone’s throw. The walk signals to get across Broad are basically a double-dog-dare, so West Passyunk doesn’t get connected at all.
This money should have been spent on the Passyunk-12th-Morris intersection. That spot at least stands a chance.
This one is dead dead dead.
I agree with that. Even if it was the original plan with the fountain, this area is just to weird and cut off. Until some more businesses push in closer that add more to the nightlife or daylife right around there (Palladino’s may be a start, I guess) its still going to be a weird no man’s land with cars tearing by seemingly out of nowhere.
Completely agreed. The bike share made at least some sense. But this? Not so much.
It’s gonna be nice. But don’t get it twisted. PARC screws it’s tennants any chance they get. They are only out to make $ not improve passyunk.
Why do we need all this crap ? It’s all surface . It’s all show . And for the “new South Philly ” what was wrong with old South Philly , i loved my “old south philly ” taxes and cost of living .
How is a desolate patch of concrete currently used a place to throw litter representative of the “Old South Philly”? Don’t answer that.
The old South Philly was letting Passyunk Avenue rot and die with stagnant, old world businesses that are no longer needed and crumbling, ugly facades. Much better than it is today.
Just move to NJ and live the old South Philly lifer dream.
Umm.. If you’re telling people to move to jersey… Why would you think something like these pavement “improvements” like the dirt island that causes a straight outta jersey jug-handle to occur at Snyder, Passyunk, & 16th are a such a great idea??
Did no one want all the parking that was taken a few years ago to be replaced? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to redevelop the area around the Juniper streets?
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