Big plans for Bainbridge Green have been in place for about three years now, yet not a whole lot has changed along the skinny strip of public space between 3rd and 5th streets in Queen Village.
Long-time resident Johnathan Rubin hopes that changes soon.
"Myself and a couple of neighbors have been looking at this space as having enormous potential, but it’s just looked so bad," Rubin says of Bainbridge Green. "It was just embarrassing—we thought that we can do better than this."
That’s how the group Friends of Bainbridge Green formed around 2005, piggy-backing off neighbors’ earlier efforts to transform the space in the 1980s. Save for some foliage, new colorful planters, and some benches, for the most part the space has served as a concrete slab in the middle of the street, sandwiched by parking spots. During its heyday in the late 19th century, it served as a main hub for Washington Produce Market.
In 2013, the group won a $40,000 Community Design Collaborative grant that they used to hire Olin Studio for their design services and to conduct a traffic study.
"That gave us so much information. It taught us who owns the space and what possibly could go into this linear park. That was the big first step," says Rubin.
After numerous community meetings over the past few years and the design undergoing a number of reiterations, the plan for a revamped Bainbridge Green is a lofty one: They want to add 20,000 square feet of green space while eliminating 10 percent of parking.
That, in turn, could generate 20 percent more foot traffic in the area and increase business along the stretch by 18 percent, says Rubin.
"At this point, this is what we’re advocating for," he says. "Our mantra is that you’re going to gain amenities, create a safer space, and help local businesses because a beautiful space attracts people."
The most recent community survey found that about 60 to 70 percent of the 305 respondents said they were in favor of the 20,000-square-feet of additional green space.
Over the years, the Friends of Bainbridge Green have started making small changes to the streetscape, from adding more colorful foliage to tearing down a concrete wall to creating pop-up parks.
Perhaps its biggest event is Saturday’s Bainbridge Green Brunch Fest on October 16, which will be a part-awareness, part-fundraising campaign. Creating parks doesn’t come cheap: The initial study estimated that the total cost of the project could run anywhere between $5 to 6 million.
"We realize to really make programming work and have a dynamic space it’s going to cost millions," says Rubin. "And if the community doesn’t want it, if it gets voted down, that’s okay. I think it’s important to put something out there that you have thoroughly vetted and believe in your heart and soul would be an incredible transformational space."
- Friends of Bainbridge Green
- Neighbors here 3 options for Bainbridge Green [Passyunk Post]
- A century later, momentum toward a Bainbridge Green [Hidden City Philadelphia]