Leaders from the Reading Terminal Market joined with elected officials and funders today to break ground on the Filbert Street Transformation Project. The initiative, which was announced in 2019 and delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, puts an emphasis on extending the footprint of Philadelphia’s historic public market and activating an underutilized outdoor public space.
The $1 million initiative will reconstruct the 1100 block of Filbert Street into a seasonal, multi-use public area and thoroughfare. The project, of which several phases have been completed, will activate approximately 15,000 square feet of public space directly adjacent to the Market with a greatly improved streetscape. The project is being funded by grants from the William Penn Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Multi-Modal Transportation Fund, and the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.
“Useful and inviting outdoor spaces have become increasingly important to our city, its residents, and visitors throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, putting an emphasis on the importance of projects like this. As a cornerstone of the Philadelphia community and diverse, welcoming hub for our city, providing a safe, engaging outdoor experience in addition to the extensive options indoors is critical,” said Annie Allman, CEO and General Manager of the Reading Terminal Market. “I want to thank all of the elected officials and community members who supported this effort and our generous funders for enabling us to make this plan a reality including the Commonwealth, William Penn Foundation, Knight Foundation, and Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority.”
The major elements of this project include streetscape improvements, mixed-use outdoor furniture, and artwork enhancements. An outline of these components, both existing and expected, can be found below:
“Public spaces play a crucial role in strengthening engaged
Remove curb on Filbert Street: The 1100 block of Filbert Street adjacent to the Market will be graded to create one of Center City’s first “curbless” multi-purpose street (sidewalk and car lanes will be equal height for the length of the block).
Widen Sidewalk: A portion of the parking lane immediately adjacent to the Market on Filbert Street will be removed, and the sidewalk widened by approximately eight feet to accommodate additional seating.
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. 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 be available to line the widened sidewalk area, weather permitting. Throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Reading Terminal utilized these outdoor dining options to allow customers to safely enjoy the Market’s prepared food options during the closure of indoor dining.
Pop-Up Retail Kiosks: Custom made kiosks will be available for local artists, artisans, and entrepreneurs to use sell a variety of goods or fresh food at outdoor events coordinated by the Market.
Locally designed and built: Street furniture and kiosks were designed locally by Groundswell Design Group, and built by one of the Market’s PA Dutch families – Dienner’s BBQ. The owner’s brother, Austin Dienner, made the furniture.
TEMPORARY AND PERMANENT ART INSTALLATIONS:
Public Mural: In 2019 Reading Terminal Market, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and SEPTA unveiled the Philadelphia Microcosm mural series inside the vestibule at 12th and Filbert Streets honoring the history of Reading Terminal Market and its connection to the SEPTA transportation hub at Jefferson Station.
Ongoing Cultural Programming: The Market has piloted and hosted a variety of successful events over several 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 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, a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a $300,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. The Market expects the Project to be completed in the fall of 2022.
“The Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority is committed in supporting Reading Terminal Market through this important project. As we continue to focus on recovery of the tourism and hospitality business, an expansion of the Market’s footprint and capabilities is an impressive addition for center city Philadelphia,” said John J. McNichol, President and CEO, Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority. “Guests of the Pennsylvania Convention Center love having easy access to Philadelphia’s historic public market across the street from our facility and I’m confident future meetings and conventions will enjoy the activation opportunities this festival street concept provides.”