Breaking Ground on Trolley Portal Gardens

Dec 06, 2016 3 months ago

We did it! On Tuesday, December 6th, Mayor James Kenney and other key stakeholders joined us as we broke ground on Trolley Portal Gardens, the future home of a public space and restaurant at the 40th Street Trolley Portal. This public-private partnership between UCD, SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia, and neighborhood stakeholders will transform a blighted and unwelcoming place into a vibrant and social space and a new restaurant called Trolley Car Station.

We intend for Trolley Portal Gardens to serve as a gateway for West Philadelphia trolley passengers and a welcoming new public space for neighbors. When complete, the site will offer lush landscaping, moveable seating, and a layout that prioritizes the safety of the commuters and pedestrians passing through the space. Stormwater that previously ran untreated into the Schuylkill will be properly managed through cutting edge techniques.  We are thrilled to report that the site will be maintained by our landscaping social venture Green City Works. Green City Works employees are West Philadelphia residents who have graduated from our West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, and earn a living wage with full benefits caring for spaces in and around University City.

Trolley Portal Gardens builds upon our track record of enhancing underutilized assets for the benefit of the local economy and residents. In order to transform the public space, we raised $2.1 million from community residents, foundations, private supporters, the city and state, while the restaurant was privately financed. We developed the plans for Portal Gardens with significant input from local community groups and neighbors, including a Trolley Portal Advisory Committee comprised of professionals from the architecture, engineering, and construction sectors, and neighbors from the immediate vicinity.

The owners of the Trolley Car Diner in Mt. Airy and Trolley Car Café in East Falls will operate Trolley Car Station onsite, providing affordable, casual food and an extensive selection of beer for the neighborhood. The new establishment will become the eastern anchor on the fast-growing Baltimore Avenue business corridor, where tens of thousands of neighbors, commuters, university students, and nearby VA Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia employees converge.

The locally based general contractor company Domus, known for its wide-ranging experience with both new construction and renovation work, expects to begin construction this upcoming January. They will work closely with SEPTA to avoid any disruptions in trolley service, and aim to complete the project before the end of 2017.

This project would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of the neighborhood and other critical stakeholders.  Here at UCD, we are eager to move one giant step closer to our shared vision of creating a magnificent public space for thousands of neighbors, commuters, and local employees. Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses!

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