Philly breaks ground on LOVE Park construction

Charles Mostoller

One of the city’s most beloved public spots will soon undergo a dramatic transformation.

Officials broke ground on the brand new redesign of Philly’s iconic LOVE Park Wednesday morning, ushering in a new era of open-door accessibility.

Plans for the new park, slated for a spring 2017 completion, include a new vertical fountain surrounded by reorganized granite layout, structural upgrades that make the groundwork more walkable, more green space, and a new waterproof parking garage beneath the park, officials said.

The revamp includes the preserving of Robert Indiana’s famous LOVE statue, with a total estimated pricetag of $19.7 million.

A new restaurant and food truck vendors are also expected.

To celebrate the groundbreaking, the city will allow people to skateboard at the park through Valentine’s Day.

“We’re going to lift the ban on skateboarding here and allow folks to come back and experience this place one more time before it goes under construction,” Mayor Jim Kenney said Wednesday.

Kenney called LOVE Park “one of the capitals in the world for skateboarding.”

“I’ve never skateboarded. I would kill myself if I tried, but there’s a certain culture that comes with this Robert Indiana statue, and this space,” Kenney said. “We want people to come from around the country – around the world – for one more spin on your board here in Love Park.”

Jesse Rendell, son of former governor Ed Rendell, gas been a strong voice in the skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding community for many years. He helped spearhead the effort to allow a skateboarding element to return to LOVE Park, and attended Wednesday’s press conference.

“It’s incredibly hard for the layperson to understand, but it is the equivalent of one of the Seven Wonders of the World to skateboarders, so I’m really thrilled,” Rendell said of LOVE Park.

Mary Margaret Jones is with Hargreaves Associates, one of the landscape architecture firms chosen by the city to redesign the park. She said there are many reasons for need for the fix, among them, the leaking parking garage below the bubbling, 40-ft. high fountain.

“We had to repair it so water would no longer we pouring in the parking garage. That’s the main thing,” she said.

“If you walk around, you’ll notice how many pieces of granite rock and roll, and are coming apart, and the park was beginning to fall apart. The underpinnings were in really bad shape.

“So, structurally, our analysis showed that you don’t need all these walls around the park. We designed it such that you can just walk into the park. It will be much more welcoming, open and accessible.”

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