Rent from food concessions is one way urban parks are generating revenue | Photo via
No, Shake Shack is not coming to Philadelphia. (At least not yet...)
But the photo is illustrative of the concept that is now applicable to Rittenhouse Square. Albeit, on a smaller scale.
The Friends of Rittenhouse Square are in the process of evaluating different ways the park can generate revenue.
For example, one way could be charging fees for organizations to host events (e.g. art shows, fashion shows, etc.) in the square. Or finding corporate sponsors for the square. Or assessing neighboring property owners.
And/or, yes, leasing a food concession to an eager restaurateur.
Not completely unlike Square Burger. Or Shake Shack. (Except Rittenhouse Square's location having much greater demand than Franklin Square.)
To help them evaluate the square's revenue-generation options, the Friends of Rittenhouse Square have hired Dan Biederman, who was responsible for turning around Manhattan's Bryant Park in the early 90s. His consulting firm, Biederman Redevelopment Ventures Corporation, now specializes in public space projects across the world.
(Bryant Park has been completely self-sustaining since 1998 and now generates more than $7 million dollars annually to be invested back into the park. In the winter, they turn the park's beautiful green lawn into a skating rink complete with a two-story bar and restaurant.)
Inga Saffron first reported on this in November:
Striking the balance between public and private goals will be tricky. Should Rittenhouse Square allow a food concession? Franklin Square did, but it isn't surrounded by restaurants.The Friends of Rittenhouse Square are smart for looking at ways to make the park self-sustaining and not reliant on public dollars.
The new management structure wouldn't be just about making money. Rosen can imagine setting aside space for yoga classes or a children's story hour. She wants to close the park's 18th Street side for occasional block parties with local restaurants.
The challenge will be raising revenue while also keeping as much of the park as possible open as public space as often as as possible.
Friends of Rittenhouse Square Look to Revitalize the Park [ KYW 1060 ]
Daniel A. Biederman Named Consultant for the Friends of Rittenhouse Square [ PR Newswire ]
Changing Skyline: Struggle to make season bright on the square [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]