A few people have reached out of late, wondering about the new building that's recently arrived on the southwest corner of 17th & Fitzwater, next door to the Marian Anderson Rec Center. Just looking at it, you can easily see it's not a new home. For many years, this space was occupied by a playground along with batting cages associated with the adjacent baseball field. What's coming soon will be a big improvement.
It was back in 2010 that the Philadelphia Phillies announced plans for an Urban Youth Academy, with an outdoor location in FDR Park and an indoor facility at 17th & Fitzwater. When people heard about this, they were really excited. And when it didn't happen for several years, they were mostly confused and disappointed. And many (like us) forgot it was even a thing.
Last October though, groundbreaking finally took place on this 7,500 sqft facility, and soon enough it will be full of local kids learning baseball and softball skills. Impressively, this location and the field at FDR Park, open since last summer, should serve about 8,000 kids per year. Another part of this project will mean upgrades to the rec center next door- for those that have never visited Marian Anderson, trust us when we say the upgrades have been a long time coming.
As we said before, a playground was uprooted because of this construction activity. From what we understand, the playground will return once the project is finished, though it will appear in a slightly different location, closer to Catharine Street. In all, this will be a great project for the neighborhood and a wonderful opportunity for Philadelphia youth to become better ballplayers. A few years from now, the Urban Youth Academy might produce more competitive little league teams. Ten years from now, it might mean more Philly kids making waves in MLB.