Would you swap 4-acres of historic FDR Park on South Broad Street for a $100M LEED Platinum Certified velodrome cycle-track that included upwards of $15M in park improvements? That's the question being asked today as Project 250, the development team behind the 'drome, will present its ambitious, and likely controversial, plans on Dec. 17 to "revitalize and restore" the park designed by the Olmstead Brothers firm in 1914. The new building would sit on the eastern edge of the park, across the street from the NovaCare Complex. Can a cycle-track bring new life 'down The Lakes'? Should it?
Inga Saffron points out that the 250-meter track (hence Project 250) will be designed by Sheward Partnership. "Sheward produced the eye-catching design. Smaller in area than the former Spectrum, it would feature a parabolic roof rising to 55 feet." Saffron also notes that the transfer of public land for private use and development is sure to be a "charged issue." The undulations mirror the energy of the racing that will go on inside of the building.
As for the plan, Project 250's flashy website states that the velodrome will be designed to be sensitive to the "pastoral" nature of FDR Park. Here's how:
· Cleaning the water, removing algae, installing native vegetation
· Repaving the pathways
· Clearing undergrowth and reintroducing native plant species
The website also states that the facility will feature gobs of green infrastructure, which will allow for "energy and water independence" and also boast a large green roof "suitable for picnicking and tossing Frisbees."
Another draw to the facility is the Project 250 aims to have it become a community hub where neighbors and students can come to learn about nature, recreation and cycling. As Saffron points out, they'll need to make money off this area by more than cycling:
"Because bike racing alone will not be enough to cover operating costs, Project 250's organizers are designing the 6,000-seat arena to accommodate other moneymaking events, including rock concerts and tennis and volleyball matches."
Speaking of sustainable business models. While such a facility could be a win for Philadelphia, what would it mean for the world-class Trexlertown Velodrome in the Lehigh Valley?
· Changing Skyline: Cyclists press plan for velodrome in S. Phila. [Changing Skyline]