A recent controversy over a planned Starbucks in Dilworth Park has raised questions about what kinds of amenities should exist in Philly’s most beloved public spaces.
The Dilworth Park issue arises out of a planned Starbucks coffee kiosk, which is currently being constructed at the Center City park. The kiosk would be a walk-up only (meaning no interior seating or space) coffee shop. It brings outdoor seating along with green space—there are three “green walls” surrounding the planned kiosk—to the south side of Dilworth Park.
Members of the Center City District (CCD), which is behind the development, have said the kiosk would be a boon for visitors to the park, allowing them a chance to grab a coffee and stay in the public space without having to leave for drinks or food. They’ve also said the plan brings some much needed green space to the arguably grey spot.
But recent blog posts by the popular site Streets Dept. as well as an opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer—written by Street Dept.’s author, Conrad Benner—have challenged the benefit of the new development. There is already one walk-in Starbucks shop at the north end of the park, and a Philly-based La Colombe coffee shop across the street from the south end.
A petition, posted online by Benner last week, arguing for a stop to the kiosk’s development, had already garnered over 5,000 signatures by Tuesday evening.
Some of the main complaints about the project center on public space like Dilworth, being used by private companies for revenue. Benner offers other suggestions for the space, like a free library, or simply greenery minus the kiosk.
The debate has us at Curbed Philly wondering: What kinds of amenities would you like to see in a public space like Dilworth Park? Would you prefer chains like Starbucks or even a Wawa at the site? Or would you like the spots reserved for local businesses? Maybe you’d prefer no businesses at all. Like Benner, would you prefer a free library? Or a small garden? Or would you like those public parks simply left alone?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.