Penn is dropping $40 mill on Penn Park, which should be up and running by 2011.
The University of Pennsylvania announced yesterday that it would spend $40 million to convert [14 acres of former US Postal Service asphalt parking] lots into Penn Park, consisting of open space, four athletic fields, a dozen tennis courts, and other features. Combined with existing athletic fields, the park will total 24 acres, officials said.Good on you, Penn. Sometimes you let us down a little. And sometimes you make us proud.
"This is the first time that Penn, by design, has acquired land that will remain as open space," university president Amy Gutmann said in a statement, "which has tremendous environmental benefits for our campus and the city."
The project will also feature tree-topped berms, seating, and native species of meadow grasses.
The park will be open to the public, and the athletic fields will be used for regulation, club and intramural competition, practices, and public access at specific times, officials said.
Anne Papageorge, the university's vice president for facilities and real estate, hailed the project as innovative.
"It's not every day that an urban campus has the opportunity to expand adjacent to its campus and add 14 acres of open space and athletic fields," Papageorge said.
She added that the project, which is scheduled to begin this spring and is to be completed in spring 2011, would not displace any residents or businesses.
"This was vacant land," Papageorge said. "We're removing a brownfield, an eyesore. We're doing this in a sustainable way. We're using native vegetation and trees."
A storm-water management system is being installed to capture and divert rainwater into underground cells to supply the site's irrigation system, Papageorge said.
The work is the centerpiece of the university's 30-year master plan known as "Penn Connects - A Vision for the Future," which was published in 2006.
"Penn Park," Gutmann said, "will dramatically enhance our athletic and recreational amenities, create a beautiful new campus gateway, and further link University City and Center City."
This occasion falls into the latter.
Now if only you could bury the Schuylkill Expressway, and make this a truly amazing waterfront park.
Penn to convert asphalt into park [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Penn Connects – Penn Park [ Penn Connects ]