INHABITAT: Why do you think this is such an important project for Philadelphia?
Paul Levy: It is one of several projects in which investment in parks and green space that leverages residential and commercial development that can get Philadelphia on the path to adding jobs.
INHABITAT: Every elevated park project is now is being compared to New York’s High Line – how is your project different?
Paul Levy: NYC’s real estate market is hyper-inflated compared to Philadelphia. This area [Center City] will remain more mixed use in character and the level in investment in our viaduct will be far more modest than in New York.
INHABITAT: Do you think the success of the High Line is making it easier to propose and build regenerative projects like yours?
Paul Levy: It is easier in that there is a viable model to point to, but harder in that the success in New York gives many unrealistic expectations about what we can achieve in Philadelphia.
INHABITAT: Tell us more about how building a new park was cheaper than demolishing the viaduct.
Paul Levy: The cost of demolition with all the required environmental remediation was estimated at $50 million. The cost of renovating the entire viaduct from Vine to Fairmont was priced well under $40 million. Phase 1 will bein the $6 to $8 million range.
INHABITAT: From the community surveys, what elements and strategies did the community want included in the project?
Paul Levy: The message from the community was “Keep It Simple” and respect the industrial character of the original viaduct.
INHABITAT: What’s your favorite feature of this new elevated park?
Paul Levy: The industrial swings.
INHABITAT: When do you hope work will start and when could it be completed?
Paul Levy: Work could start on Phase 1 in 2013 if all the funding can be put in place. It will take about one year to complete.
Images ©Studio | Bryan Hanes