Almost two years ago we shared news that University City District was planning to renovate the 40th St. Trolley Street Portal where Baltimore, Chester and Woodland Aves. meet in University City. The station serves as a gateway to West Philadelphia. Improvements will green and vegetate the currently-concrete-laden portal, install storm-water management infrastructure, and potentially include an art element as well.

Current shabby view

“I think we're close to the finish line,” said Prema Gupta, director of planning and economic development at UCD, during a recent telephone interview, referring to an agreement between the city, UCD and SEPTA, that needs to be finalized before work can begin.

Hummingbirds and butterflies might be part of the design scheme UCD hopes to draw at the station, Plan Philly reported in April. The $2M project designed by Andropogon Associates will animate and modernize a nexus of connection where four trolley lines pass through. It's also a project where numerous city entities and SEPTA have converged. At times, UCD has slowed down its process with the development because it still needed to fundraise more, Gupta said. There's also the consideration SEPTA has to run a busy transit operation during the improvements, Gupta explained. What was first announced as a two phase project is now planned to be accomplished in one phase, which means the cafe initially planned for phase two will come at the same time as the greening aspect. UCD has already fundraised enough money for what was originally going to be phase one.

Project rendering

“I think we're one big grant away from that,” Gupta said. “I don't know if that grant exists.”

UCD expects to issue an RFQ for the cafe this summer, with construction, first aimed for 2013, now to begin, Gupta is hopeful, by late 2014 or by the spring of 2015. With SEPTA shutting down the trolleys in the Center City Tunnel west August 1-18 from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., technical improvements might be the first step here.