December 01, 2017

Philly reveals proposed sites for citywide Rebuild initiative

$500 million program will invest in 400 parks, libraries and recreation centers

Development Parks
Philadelphia Playground GEORGE WIDMAN/AP

Children play on modern-design playground equipment at Franklin Square.

Plans for one of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's key initiatives gained greater clarity this week with the release of maps detailing proposed project sites for the Rebuild program, a multimillion-dollar investment to renovate parks, libraries and recreation centers across the city.

Approved by City Council in June, Rebuild will allocate approximately $500 million to some 400 projects, each meeting one of several conditions for rehabilitation or a commitment of public health resources.

Financing for the initiative, authorized in a service agreement between the city and the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development, will come primarily through a $300 million bond issue. The city will add $48 million in capital funding to go with another $152 million in grants and contributions from other sources, including $100 million from the William Penn Foundation.

In a project statement released Thursday, officials said the goal of the seven-year program is to revitalize shared public spaces, empower and engage communities and promote economic opportunity through diversity and inclusion.

The initial document, covering Rebuild's first phase from December 2017 to June 2019, includes projects in every city council district. Renovations are now planned for 23 playgrounds, 19 recreation centers, seven co-located rec centers and libraries, seven parks and five libraries.

Under the terms of the law, each and every Rebuild proposal must be submitted to a Project Review Team placed in charge of assessing budgets and contractors for each project. The first round of investments prioritized neighborhoods with high needs and areas where revitalization may have a stabilizing effect.

To determine the initial list of sites, Rebuild analyzed poverty, drug crime, health indicator, household growth, Market Value Analysis and residential building permit data.

A tour of the city's dilapidated parks last year revealed the effects of what Philadelphia Parks Alliance executive director George Matysik called a "chronically underfunded" system.

Earlier this year, The New York Times highlighted Philadelphia's focus on parks and public spaces as a means of driving social and economic progress through the establishment of community hubs.

A full list of proposed sites can be found in Rebuild's project statement. Interactive maps showing the program's various data points for project selection can be accessed at the Rebuild's website here.