New Dilworth Plaza is taking shape

Paul Levy, president of the Center City District, and Steve Bussey, its vice president, at Dilworth Plaza, in front of what will be a cafe.
Paul Levy, president of the Center City District, and Steve Bussey, its vice president, at Dilworth Plaza, in front of what will be a cafe. (PAUL NUSSBAUM / Staff)
Posted: May 04, 2013

Next month, workers will begin putting the lid on the makeover of Dilworth Plaza at City Hall, starting to give shape to what is supposed to be a $70 million, people-friendly space with cafe, glass-covered transit entrances, and fountains.

Crews have done much of the underground work, with new passageways, elevator construction, and utility relocation, and they will start pouring concrete to create a new street-level surface in the third week of June, officials said Thursday during a tour of the site.

The entire project, including the $55 million plaza and $15 million in SEPTA-related upgrades, is supposed to be completed by July 2014, said Paul Levy, president of the Center City District, which is overseeing the project with SEPTA.

When it's done, the apron on the west side of City Hall will also feature a lawn and a skating rink in winter. Five elevators will provide access to the Market-Frankford and Subway-Surface lines, but not to the Broad Street subway station.

Elevators to the Broad Street line's busiest station must await a long-postponed, $100 million rehabilitation of the City Hall station. Lacking funds, SEPTA has set no date to begin that work.

Much of the progress on the plaza construction has been invisible from the surface, but that is about to change, said Steven Bussey, vice president of parks and streetscape operations for the CCD.

Workers will start installing forms next week to prepare for pouring the concrete surface of the plaza, Bussey said.

"Now you're putting the lid on," Bussey said. "Things will really start to take shape."

This year will also see the cafe rise on the northern end of the plaza. SEPTA fare stations will be installed on the concourses below, though the transit stations themselves will not be upgraded.

About 77,000 riders each weekday use the Market-Frankford, Broad Street, and Subway-Surface stations beneath City Hall.

A planned work of public art, Pulse by Janet Echelman, is to feature moving columns of orange, blue, and green mist on the plaza to mimic the movements of the trains on their color-coded lines below.


Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or pnussbaum@phillynews.com

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