It’s been a long journey for the highly-anticipated renovated LOVE Park, but an end is finally in sight. Officials announced Thursday that the entire park—except for the welcome center—will officially reopen May 30 with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The announcement was made during a celebration for the park’s iconic LOVE sculpture, which returned to its home at 15th and JFK in February following a year-long restoration. During Thursday’s celebration, city officials thanked private donor Edith Dixon, who contributed money to the restoration. The Fairmount Park Conservancy also announced a $250,000 gift from Bank of America to sponsor the plaza.
The celebration—and the return of the sculpture—mark the beginning of the end of a two-year, $16 million renovation to LOVE Park, the grand opening of which has been pushed back several times.
The newly renovated park will have an updated fountain, benches and new greenery, Jennifer Crandall, spokeswoman for Philly’s Parks and Recreation Department said. It will also be home to the new welcome center—lovingly called a “flying saucer” by locals—which will sit in the same location on the west side of the park, but is undergoing its own $700,000 renovation.
Crandall said the center will not open with the rest of the park next month. Instead, renovations will continue on the center throughout the summer with an open date planned for the fall. She added that officials are re-imagining a use for the center—since there’s already a welcome center in Independence Mall—and that they’re looking for restauranteurs for the space. She said they also hope to bring food trucks back to the park to restart the once-popular “Lunch in Love” event.
“We want to keep the integrity of the park. We want it to be lively, active and enjoyable.”
But so far, some Philadelphians have been skeptical, especially as the park has run into several hiccups over its years of renovations. The park sits atop a parking garage and construction crews have run into water mains and some brick and stone structures that they didn’t know existed. Those snags forced the project to get pushed back by months.
But now it’s in the home stretch, and Crandall urges passers-by to be patient. Over the next month, officials will be testing the fountain, finishing up work on the benches and moving more furniture and plants into the area.
“We urge folks to take a minute and hold off on judgement,” Crandall said, addressing criticism on the way the development looks now. “it’s a process to develop a park.”
The ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. on May 30.