It's been non-stop construction for the 1700 block of South Broad Street over the last year and a half, but the light at the end of the tunnel is shining more brightly with every passing day. The western side of this block was home for many years to the South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library, Health Center 2, and the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center, and any of the aforementioned buildings would have benefitted from some renovation efforts. Instead, everything was demolished in late 2014 with plans for something called the Community Health and Literacy Center.
At the end of last summer, we noted there was significant progress, as the building had been framed out. Checking in more recently, it appears as though the new building is almost ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille.
As a reminder, this building will have several functions. CHOP is moving their primary care facility from Saint Agnes down the street to the 3rd floor, allowing them to serve a greater number of patients with updated equiptment and facilities. Health Center 2 moved to Saint Agnes during construction, but will soon return to this address and will occupy the second floor. The first floor will house a new library, with the rec center and parking in the rear. While the front of the building is creative and presents a unique face to South Broad Street, the rear of the building is rather bland.
Though the new building looks like it's almost ready for business, the large playground in the rear still needs some work. We did spy a crew working on that very issue when we passed by, so maybe the playground will be finished sooner than we'd expect.
No matter how you slice it, this building will be a game changer for health care, education, and recreation for the surrounding neighborhoods. Add in the fact that it sits mere steps from a stop on the Broad Street Line, and it's likely that it will provide for plenty of adults and kids outside of South Philadelphia as well. Just eyeballing it, we'd guess that it's just weeks away from a grand opening ceremony. Cue the pomp! Ready the circumstance!