After a three-year wait and a $5 million cost overrun, the $55 million makeover of Dilworth Plaza is finally finished. The plaza west of Philadelphia City Hall will re-open this week.
The front entrance to City Hall has been transformed under a lease arrangement with the Center City District. CCD President Paul Levy, the moving force behind the project, said in an interview visitors will see a park reborn.
"The surface has been completely transformed for those people who remember the old Dilworth plaza with lots of stairwell steps and hard surfaces," Levy said. "This park will now be completely accessible from the street. [There's a] beautiful interactive playful fountain, and a new café operated by Jose Garces.
Levy said the space is a gateway to transit, a public park, and a stage for small intimate groups to perform.
"Think of this park as a place with five or six different rooms," Levy said. "So if you want to sit in one place and check your e-mail, on the other side of the park there may be a band playing, a soloist performing, so [there's] lots of different diverse programming activities for people of all ages."
Ice skating will also be available in the winter and Levy adds the facility will also bring new and improved SEPTA access in the heart of Center City.
Most of the refurbished plaza will be open to the public on Thursday, though some spaces won't open till around Thanksgiving. Levy said he's proud of the transformation, and said the growth in the project's cost from $50 million to $55 million was due to unforeseen conditions.
"It's not something we would have liked," Levy said. "We did extra fundraising, but the park will be exactly what we envisioned it to be."
The transformation includes a fountain during warm weather that will become an ice skating rink during the winter months. It will also boast an intimate performing space amongst tree-filled areas and grassy relaxation spots.