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Dilworth Park Will Open September 4th with Jose Garces Joint

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Photos: James Jennings, Renderings: PlanPhilly

Paul Levy, President and CEO of The Center City District, announced today at a press conference that Dilworth Park will officially cut the ribbon on September 4th at 11am. Seems like we were a mere three hours off. That alone would be exciting news, but Mr. Levy also shed some light on the cafe that will be located in the northwest corner. Chef Jose Garces will open a Rosa Blanca inspired cafe that will serve breakfast all day and focus on "great handheld items" such as their famous Cuban pastries, empenadas, salads and Cuban sandwiches. The Cafe will be situated within site of the Convention Center and have views the look out onto the Parkway and directly at the fountain. There will also be a dynamic opening weekend event schedule, including Picnic in the Park on September 5th and Playtime in the Park on the 6th. Events will feature local artists, crafts and games for all ages. But wait, that's not all!

Garces will also have a liquor license, which means alcoholic beverages can be served after 5pm. He mentioned that visitors can have a mojito on the park, but will have to stay within the cafe or on the outdoor terrace area overlooking the fountain — shucks. The cafe itself will seat 30 to 35 people inside, with around 24 seats outside on the terrace. Garces told us that the cafe won't be ready for the ribbon cutting but they "will have a presence in the park" on opening day.

As for the park, Levy mentioned that from "this has been a transit enhancement project" from the beginning, noting that they've dramatically improved access — there are no steps at the entrances above ground and two elevators — and completely reconstructed two levels of transit areas below the surface of the park. They've also recycled the granite from Dilworth Plaza in the underground concourse. Levy called Dilworth Park an important "link space" for the entire city, citing that the new "transit room" at Market Street will essentially become the transit gateway to the Sports Complex, North Philadelphia and the Market Street Line. The south elevator will have two, six-foot by eight-foot, north- and south-facing digital boards that will provide sponsorship opportunities and also give interactive history lessons through programming such as "The Great Experiment." They'll come complete with audio.

The fountain is a key element to the entire project. It's comprised of six segments that can be turned on and off individually. Why is that important? Well, Levy said that it will be a multi-use event space that can be incorporated into the events planned for the park. Two large cisterns will collect rain water needed to run the fountain. It will also be the site of the ice skating rink, which will be open from mid-November through February and offering "affordably priced" skating for visitors.

In addition to the aforementioned opening weekend slate, there will be a robust events schedule for the park. Levy proclaimed that there will be no "mega-events" at the new Dilworth Park and that the focus will be to celebrate local artists, think Collins Park. Here's a rundown of a few announced at the press conference:
· Tuesday Nights: Pictures in the Park, outdoor movie screening
· Wednesdays: Live at Lunch, live music and lunchtime entertainment
· Thursdays: StylePOP, a fashion pop-up market with local designers
· Thursday Evenings: DJ's at Dilworth, live music
· Octoberfest: 10/18-10/25, family oriented fun with a beer garden in the evening

The Center City District have a 20 year lease to operate the park with a 10 year option. Much like they do with the rest of Center City, CCD will clean, pressure wash and also provide security above and below ground. Levy mentioned there will be "significant operating cost" for the park and that "you don't finish it when you're done [with construction]." Sponsored events and programming will help defray some of the costs but the idea was to create a world class park — similar to their work with Sister Cities Park up the street.
· Signs Point to Early September Opening for Dilworth Park [Curbed Philly]
· Dilworth Park [Center City District]

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