For many years, the 1700 block of South Broad Street has been home to the South Philadelphia Neighborhood Library, Health Center 2, and the DiSilvestro Playground and Recreation Center. All three facilties have been looking a little shabby of late, needing at least some minor repairs and ideally a major renovation. That sort of thing costs money, and perhaps you've heard the City isn't exactly swimming in the green stuff these days.
Through a creative partnership with CHOP though, South Philly will soon be getting a brand new library, rec center, and health center to go along with a relocated CHOP primary care facility. Groundbreaking on this project, which is called the Community Health and Literacy Center, took place a couple of weeks ago, and construction (demolition, really) is now underway.
Currently, CHOP has a primary care facility a couple blocks to the south at Saint Agnes Hospital. The practice sees 31,000 patients every year in a space that's just over 15,000 sqft. A new facility on the third floor of the building pictured above will have about 50% more space, with six new exam rooms and a larger waiting area with computers for parents to use, according to a press release. With a new facility, it stands to reason the medical equipment will be upgraded as well.
The second floor of this new building will house the new health center. Health Center 2 sees 50,000 patients every year, which averages out to an average of 160 patients per day. Their new space will have almost 30,000 sqft for pediatric and adult care (though we suspect many of the kids will just get seen on the third floor), women's health, and dental care. Health Center 2 has temporarily moved to a space at Saint Agnes during construction.
The rec center will grow in size and therefore increase its programming, while the playground will undergo a complete renovation. The library will take up most of the first floor space of the building. Books will surely be the main attraction, but technology will be right there too thanks to a grant from the William Penn Foundation. Also look for a Consumer Health Resource Center, a "Makerspace" which will have computers and a 3D printer, career development computer classes, and literacy programming. Also, the obvious synergy between having a pediatric primary care facility above a library makes us hope that the library gets some bonus use before or after appointments. A lobby and covered parking will take up the rest of the first level.
The total cost of the project will be $42.5M, though the City will only spend $2.2M with CHOP covering the rest. When the project is finished in 2015, South Philadelphia will have a vastly improved library, rec center, playground, health center, and pediatric primary care facility. This project has been years in the making, and it looks like a big win all the way around. We wonder, will the City look to enter into similar public-private partnerships in the future? If so, where?