It’s been a long time coming, but the Centennial Commons project, which will give new life to a 450-square-foot section of Fairmount Park, is starting to come together.
The first phase of Centennial Commons opened Wednesday afternoon with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by the Fairmount Park Conservancy, which is overseeing the $11 million project in West Fairmount Park.
Dubbed Parkside Neighborhood Edge, the first phase broke ground last year. It consists of 67,000 square feet along Parkside Avenue between 41st Street and Belmont Avenue, and features porch swings, 68 newly planted trees, a rain garden, and a walking path. It’s a big change for that section of land, which was once home to an empty swath of grass and trees.
The Parkside Neighborhood Edge project, designed by Studio Bryan Hanes, cost $5 million to put together, much of which was donated by places like the William Penn Foundation and the Knight Foundation, according to a statement from the conservancy.
While the opening of the park is cause for celebration, it’s also only one part of the Centennial Commons’ three-phase project. The Fairmount Park Conservancy says they’re still trying to gather funding for the remaining sections, but they did take the chance to introduce plans and renderings for phase two of the project Wednesday.
That phase will include a play area for children, a skating rink, and restrooms, according to the statement. Renderings show a slide, a climbing structure, a sand pit, and a water play area for the kids.
The second phase would be nearby the first, close to Kelly Pool, but the conservancy says there’s not a clear idea of when they will be able to start construction.
“They still have several million dollars to raise,” spokeswoman Cari Feiler Bender said.
The overall project has had a long journey. Plans to revitalize and give new life to West Fairmount Park have been around for over a decade. The master plan for the new park was put together in 2013 by Studio Bryan Hanes and the work was set to begin in 2015, but then it was pushed back to 2016, and again, to 2017.
If the conservancy can get the funds needed to complete the Centennial Commons project, it will give new life to an area that was once home to the 1876 World’s Fair and Centennial Exhibition. Now, that section of Fairmount Park is still an incredibly important part of the city—it holds the Philly Zoo and the beloved Please Touch Museum.
“Through an extensive community engagement process, we learned that Parkside residents have long used these lawns for picnics, but they wanted some proper seating,” Jamie Gauthier, executive director of Fairmount Park Conservancy said in the statement.
“Today we’re seeing the beginnings of how this historic site can be remade into a welcoming community gathering place.”
- Parkside Neighborhood Edge, 1st phase of Centennial Commons, breaks ground [Curbed Philly]
- Parkside Edge in West Fairmount Park eyes spring groundbreaking [Curbed Philly]