PHILADELPHIA >> Leaders from the Reading Terminal Market joined with elected officials and funders on May 16 to unveil a plan for the Filbert Street Transformation Project.
The $1 million initiative will reconstruct the 1100 block of Filbert Street into a seasonal, multi-use public space and thoroughfare.
The project, of which several phases are already in progress, will activate approximately 15,000 square feet of public space directly adjacent to the Market with improved streetscapes, custom-made mobile street furniture, pop-up retail kiosks, and more.
The project is being funded by grants from the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Multi-Modal Transportation Fund.
“Fostering and nurturing the “Cosmopolitan Canopy” that exists inside the Reading Terminal is one of our core priorities, and what better way to do this than to extend the Market atmosphere out onto the sidewalk,” said Anuj Gupta, General Manager of the Reading Terminal Market. “This funding will allow us to animate Filbert Street by creating a dynamic and inclusive public space with opportunities for shoppers, diners, families, artists, and entrepreneurs to all enjoy equally. On behalf of the staff and board of the Reading Terminal Market, we would like to thank Governor Tom Wolf, Representative Mary Isaacson, Senator Larry Farnese, Councilman Mark Squilla, the William Penn Foundation, and the Knight Foundation.”
This Filbert Street Transformation Project is unique in that it blends a variety of funding sources together to address needs and purposes of the project. The Market engaged in extensive research and received significant constituent input to inform the design and usage of the space. In total, the Filbert Street Transformation will include three major elements:
· Remove curb on Filbert Street: The 1100 block of Filbert Street adjacent to the Market will be graded to create Center City’s first “curbless” multi-purpose street (sidewalk and car lanes will be equal height for the length of the block);
· Widen Sidewalk: The parking lane immediately adjacent to the Market on Filbert Street will be removed, and the sidewalk widened by approximately six feet to accommodate additional seating. This will be roughly 65% of the Market’s façade length
· Install Removable Bollards at Perimeter: These retractable traffic controllers will allow for easy closure of Filbert Street for special events at the Market.
· Improve Access to Public Transit: 70% of Market customers arrive on foot or via public transportation. The improved streetscape will serve as a traffic calming measure and improved signage will create a wayfinding connector to adjoining SEPTA Jefferson Station and further to Market Street.
· Improved parking flexibility & rideshare designated zone: a portion of the redone Market sidewalk will be dedicated to passenger loading/unloading as well as a rideshare designated pick-up/drop-off zone. This will improve flow and parking opportunities along Filbert Street and the overall Market apron
MODULAR STREET FURNITURE: Completely movable and removable for a variety of setups
· Increased Dining and Seating Capacity: High-top tables and other dining-friendly seating options will line the widened sidewalk area.
· Pop-Up Retail Kiosks: Custom made kiosks will be available for local artists, artisans and entrepreneurs to sell a variety of goods or fresh food.
· Locally designed and built: Street furniture and kiosks were designed locally by Groundswell Design Group, and are all being custom built by one of the Market’s PA Dutch families – Dienner’s BBQ – the owner’s brother, Austin Dienner, makes the furniture.
Temporary and Permanent Art Installations
· Sculpture: The first of the permanent art installations will include a set of Reading Railroad replica train car sculptures designed by local artist Jason Roberts, which will double as street furniture
· Public Mural: In partnership with Mural Arts, a public mural by local artist Jon Laidacker will be installed in the Jefferson Station vestibule directly across Filbert Street from the Market. Sections of the mural are already up.
· Ongoing Cultural Programming: The Market has piloted and hosted a variety of successful events over the past two years to welcome diverse cultures and showcase ethnic cuisine inside the Market. Filbert Street will provide a new, expansive space to display temporary art installations and host vibrant cultural performances.
The concept for Filbert Street is modeled on several other successful reinvigorations of previously underutilized public spaces, including Spruce Street Harbor Park, the Rail Park, Cherry Street Pier, and Dilworth Park. These concepts combine vibrant and multi-use public spaces with relevant cultural programming in order to create a welcoming atmosphere for individuals from all walks of life. The integration of pop-up retail will further strengthen the Market’s connection to the local entrepreneur community through partnerships with West Philadelphia’s Enterprise Center, farmer’s markets, and artist collectives.
“Reading Terminal Market is a wonderful space that brings together a diverse group of businesses, residents, and visitors,” said Judilee Reed, Program Director at the William Penn Foundation. “With this project, Reading Terminal Market is embracing its role as a place where diverse people come together to engage in new ways.”
“The Reading Terminal is a leading example of the power of public spaces to transform communities,” added Ellen Hwang, Knight Foundation program director for Philadelphia. “This effort will extend its impact as a community connector that showcases local talent, brings together people of different backgrounds and attaches them to our great city.”
The Filbert Street Transformation Project is funded by a $400,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Multi-Modal Transportation Fund. Additional support includes a $250,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation and a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Installation of several major elements has already begun, with arts-centric programming planned for the rest of the spring and summer. The Market expects the Project to be completed in the Spring of 2020.
“I am committed to increasing safety, health, and mobility for everyone visiting the Market - one of the District's and Philadelphia's most loved and visited attractions by residents and tourists alike,” said Representative Mary Isaacson. “I was proud to bring home support from Harrisburg for The Filbert Street Transformation Project to improve the overall streetscape as well as better accommodate pedestrians, drivers, and public transit and rideshare users. These improvements position the Market to welcome visitors from the Philadelphia region and beyond for the next 125 years.”
“The Reading Terminal Market is an institution in Philadelphia,” said Senator Larry Farnese. “It’s history and importance to this city has been invaluable for generations. I am excited to see this revitalization project supported for the market to remain a positive stable in our community for many more years to come.”