While a bit off the beaten path for folks living east of the Schuylkill River, Bartram’s Garden is one of our favorite public parks in the entire city. This gorgeous area has been revived over the last decade or so, with trails and park space creating a focal point for outdoor recreation in SW Philly. The park sits immediately adjacent to Bartram’s Village, a public housing development that is wedged between the park to the east and the busy Lindburgh Blvd. to the west, creating something of an island for the residents. But we are thrilled to report that there is exciting news ahead for the redevelopment of the area. Let’s check out the site from above to better get our bearings.

A look at Bartram's Village, highlighted directly next to Bartram's Garden along the Schuylkill River

A $50 million grant has been issued to upgrade the site, completely transforming the urban-renewal style complex into something that looks more like Northbank than public housing. While this is just one step in the project, that overall goal is to add more than 600 total units, with 500 being earmarked as affordable. This is still very much in the planning stages, but the transformation that we could see here is wildly exciting, as WRT’s plans for the Bartram Choice neighborhood are looking pretty darn good from where we sit.

A closer look at Bartram's Village today, a prototypical garden-style complex
An aerial shows off the future of Bartram's Village
The plans would give the area a more contemporary feel
Landscaping and pathways would create an active area for recreation

While we aren’t in love with the number of streets that appear to be part of the future plans, we think this approach makes a ton of sense. There is no reason that affordable housing should look or feel any different than market-rate housing, and this project definitely looks to close that gap. The design specifics are likely to change as the plans materialize, but this direction is certainly exciting. And this isn’t the only action happening close by, as the Lower Schuylkill Biotech Campus has plans for a life science future on both the northern and southern sides of Bartram’s Garden.

A conceptual rendering of the future biotech campus

One proposal that has always stood out for its approach and design is FloatLab, the futuristic floating science center that would sit on the Schuylkill River at Bartram’s Garden. This neon design would glow at night, offering a fish-eye view of the surroundings. Plans call for this design from Höweler + Yoon Architecture to be finished in the next couple of years.

A rendering of the future FloatLab, coming to Bartram's Garden sometime in the next couple of years

Pretty exciting, huh? And what’s even more exciting is that all of this action in SW Philly will soon have a direct connection to Center City, thanks to the upcoming bicycle and pedestrian trails that will tie the area together. Being able to bike from this area will make the future neighborhood that much more appealing – and convenient – for all of the residents who will be enjoying this park-side development in the years to come.