Committee proposes permanent redesign for Grays Ferry Triangle plaza at 23rd and South

Less than two years after successfully negotiating a three-year temporary street closure permit for the Grays Ferry Triangle pedestrian plaza at 23rd and South streets, the Grays Ferry Avenue Triangles Committee is already making moves on a permanent design.

The committee had been mulling over different configurations for several months now, and they officially settled on the option that was on display at this week's DesignPhiladelphia event, Shifting the Public Realm from Streets to Plaza at Grace Tavern.

Sean O'Rourke, one of the committee members and an architect at Bergmann Associates, who developed the design, highlighted some of the new features the revamped plaza would have, including stone benches made of native Wissahickon schist and cobblestone circles designed to retain more stormwater on the triangle's surface. 

The Triangles Committee handed Bergmann a few stipulations. The redesigned plaza would need to preserve roughly the same amount of flexible space for events like the Plazapalooza block party, movie nights, concerts, kids' birthday parties and other programming. Preserving the historic horse drinking fountain, and specifically peoples' ability to sit around it campfire-style, was also a must. 

It was also important to the committee that the edges separating the plaza from South Street traffic be preserved, both for noise and safety reasons. The fountain area on corner of South Street and 23rd is currently hemmed in by trees and plants which would end up being removed in construction of the permanent plaza. The fountain would be moved slightly toward the middle of the plaza, though not by a noticeable amount.

The Triangles committee also requested more tree cover, as the direct sunlight can be intense. 

Marcus Ferreira, one of the committee members, drew our attention to the somewhat off-kilter placement of trees. PECO rebuffed the committee's request to bury the power lines when the reconstruction eventually happens, so the tree locations next to the commercial strip are thrown off a bit by the requirement to plant them sufficiently far away from the power lines. 

Notably, the design pockets the three parking spaces on 23rd Street recently lost to an Indego station, while keeping the loading zone in front of Woven Treasures. Loading capacity for Woven Treasures was the main sticking point during the committee's nine-year push to turn what was once a through-street with seven parking spaces into a public plaza. 

SOSNA will use the designs to develop a project budget and raise the necessary funds. The Streets Department will also need to approve any changes

View the renderings for the proposal below, and stay tuned for updates as the project progresses. 

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      Grays Ferry Plaza
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      Grays Ferry Plaza
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About the author

Jon Geeting

Jon Geeting was Engagement Editor at Plan Philly from 2014-2016. He has also covered city and state politics, land use, transportation, and economic policy for Next City, Keystone Politics, This Old City, Philadelphia Magazine, and City Paper. Jon grew up in Bethlehem, PA and moved to Philadelphia in 2013 after an 11-year detour to New York City. Follow him on Twitter @jongeeting.

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