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January 20, 2015

LOVE Park on cusp of redesign

Review of public ideas for renovation project tonight at meeting

Recreation LOVE Park
Carroll - LOVE Park Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Love Park in Center City Philadelphia.

Public ideas for the future look of John F. Kennedy Plaza, better known as “LOVE Park,” will be reviewed tonight.

The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a public meeting to present public input for the park’s redesign and update the project schedule.

Much of the public input, which can be reviewed here, involves retaining some type of water structure, enhancing greenery and showcasing the iconic LOVE statue. Other ideas include implementing a beer garden, wiffleball field or zip line. 

Mark Focht, first deputy commissioner of parks and facilities, said more than 650 people offered suggestions. 

"Tonight is the end of that process and the beginning of the design (process)," Focht said. "No design has started in the park yet. That will begin after tonight."

The city has devoted $14 million to renovate the plaza, which sits catty-corner to City Hall and its redesigned Dilworth Park. City officials will devote this year to the design process, culminating with the selection of a construction team. Renovations will begin in the spring of 2016, causing the park to close for the remainder of the year.

The meeting, held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Free Library’s central branch, is expected to include the introduction of the design firm, Hargreaves Associates, which completed London's 2012 Olympic Park. The meeting also will include a summary of the input received at previous forums. Preregistration can be completed here.

Designed by city planner Edmond Bacon, LOVE Park opened in 1965 as a plaza atop an underground parking garage, expanding in 1969 to include a fountain and granite steps. Its famous statue was added in 1976. 

The redesign of LOVE Park follows the $55 million renovation of Dilworth Plaza, which reopened as Dilworth Park in September. The park, located beside City Hall, now includes an interactive fountain, lawn, tree grove and café.

Please check back later for updates on this developing story.