LOVE Park Bills Get Nod

City Council gave preliminary approval Wednesday to two bills that would allow the city to sell the garage beneath John F. Kennedy Plaza and move forward with a plan to renovate LOVE Park.

The plan to sell the garage – originally proposed by Council President Darrell L. Clarke – became contentious once the administration decided to include a park refurbishment in the deal. Clarke objected to spending $15 million of city money on the park, and instead suggested selling the rights to open restaurants there to fund the work.

In the end, he and Mayor Nutter signed an agreement to allow the deal to go forward, but with the mayor agreeing to find as many sources of outside funding as possible.

The winning bidder for the garage was InterPark Holdings, of Chicago, which offered nearly $30 million and has agreed to make improvements to the aging garage that could cost more than $9 million.

Councilman Mark Squilla quizzed administration officials about the fate of more than 200 city cars that now get discounted parking in the garage. And Councilman James F. Kenney suggested the city run a contest for the new park design and incorporate the thoughts of the skateboarding community, which views the park one of the best places in the world to ride.

But, after weeks of debate over the fate of the park deal, the two bills sailed through the hearing with relatively little resistance.

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