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After receiving $15M in funding, Center City District begins renovation of Dilworth Plaza

Anyone who has ever braved the long walk underground from City Hall to the transit lines has entered a concrete expanse known for low lighting and poor signage. So despite early skepticism, when local residents and business owners saw Center City District's plan to redesign Dilworth Plaza--the ledges, pavers and stairwells to the north and west of City Hall--at a community meeting in September, 2009, trepidation turned to excitement. Earlier this month, Rep. Chaka Fattah announced $15 million in federal TIGER grant funding would go towards the ambitious, $50 million project.

"Currently, Dilworth Plaza is a rabbit hole of underground corridors and this project is one that it is sitting on top of the very centerpoint where all transit in the region comes together so we need new entrances, alerting people where to go," says CCD executive director Paul Levy. "At the surface level, it has been a hodgepodge of different elevations, walls that don't allow clear lines of sight so we will be adding a large lawn to the south with generous landscaping around it to create a park environment."

Along with the lawn, glass-enclosed subway entrances and digital signage, the new Dilworth Plaza will feature a large fountain that will double as an ice rink in the winter, a cafe, and seating areas to accommodate concerts and events. With funding in place, construction is set to begin immediately to coincide with a $200 million SEPTA renovation, and will be complete by 2013.

"This will be a park, it will be a great place to gather to appreciate City Hall but also a highly identifiable gateway to the regional transit system," says Levy. "Want to go to a baseball game? Enter here to go to South Philly. Want to go to the universities in West Philadelphia? Enter here. Want to get to the regional rail lines? Enter here. Really highlighting transit."

Source: Paul Levy, Center City District
Writer: John Steele
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