If you’ve ever had the pleasure of walking around City Hall, you’ve probably been confused as to why Dilworth Plaza, the area immediately to the west of the magnificent seat of our local government, is so unfortunate from start to finish. Concrete everywhere. Access to three different Septa lines with confusing entrance points, no accessibility, and some powerful odors. Numerous and often inexplicable changes in elevation. Some trees and benches are to be found here, but in the shadow of some of the most impressive architecture in Philadelphia, you can’t help but get the feeling that we’re missing an opportunity here.

Image from Metro

Whelp, the city agrees. The Office of Arts Culture & the Creative Economy, Center City District, OLIN Studios, and KieranTimberlake will together spearhead a $50M project to rethink Dilworth Plaza and turn it into a public space worthy of sitting next to City Hall.

The site plan

The new Dilworth Plaza will feature numerous exciting additions that will turn it into a destination and a gathering place instead the place you walk through to get to City Hall. On the southern end, a new lawn will take root, which will complement tree groves that are to be planted in the plaza. Two new all-glass Septa entrances will be constructed, and will include an elevator to improve accessibility.

The lawn, with Septa entrance in the background

On the far northern end, a small cafe will open, with seating for 25 inside and about 100 outside. Between the lawn and the cafe, an 11K sqft fountain will impress with computer-controlled dancing water routines. The fountain will also feature a permanent art installation by Janet Echelman, with colored dry mist simulating the paths of Septa trains below. Adding to the versatility of the space, parts of the fountain area will sometimes be transformed into a seating area for events or an ice skating rink in the winter.

The fountain. Looks fun.

Work is set to begin on this project in the next couple of weeks. There’s just one little hiccup…

Oh yeah

For almost eight weeks now

Turns out, it’s tough to start a major public works project when you have a tent city “occupying” the work site. Last week, the group voted down a proposal to move the protest site across the street to the currently unoccupied MSB Plaza.

Plenty of room!

Yesterday, Mayor Nutter held a press conference and showed signs that he’s getting tired of putting up with the Occupy Philly folks living on his front porch. With conditions at the site taking a turn for the unsanitary and a more radical leadership apparently emerging, Nutter seems to be taking a more direct, less friendly tone with the group as a November 15th deadline for clearing Dilworth Plaza approaches. Occupy Philly has cost the city as much as $500K in police overtime to this point, and with an additional police presence now being deployed, that number will only continue to rise.

So we’ve got to ask. Yo Occupy Philly! Howzabout you move across the street? Staying where you are will only harm the 99%. To wit:

According to Center City District, the Dilworth Plaza renovation project will create about 800 construction jobs during the 27 month timeline, and 20 permanent jobs once the project is complete. And those jobs won’t be for bankers, we promise.

Think about it, huh? If you do stay where you are, we have a feeling this thing isn’t gonna end well…