LOVE and Philly for sale

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Architect James Rappoport's plan for seven restaurants in LOVE Park would fill the square year-round like the Christmas Village does during the holiday season.

To quote the great Cole Porter, not something you can do every day, LOVE for sale.
Much of Philly, too.

Specifically, LOVE Park. Brought to you by City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who appears to running for something, possibly Philadelphia’s developer-in-chief.

As The Inquirer’s architecture critic Inga Saffron writes in Friday’s Changing Skyline, “Philadelphia is up for sale. School Buildings. Roadside views. City Parks,” noting that “Clarke’s proposal to wring every penny out of LOVE Park may be a textbook example of how not to leverage a public asset.”

Clarke wants to put seven — yes, seven — restaurants in the forlon park when, as I noted in a recent column, “by my count and even perhaps that of martini-mogul Stephen Starr, is six cafes too many. To my knowledge, food courts have never been the cornerstone of any economic recovery strategy.”

Clarke’s plan would use 30 percent of the park for commercial space, as opposed to New York’s successful Bryant Park, which only uses 5 percent.

When Clarke was asked about his plan’s paucity of public space and where the brown-bagging office worker might eat, Saffron notes, he “pointed to the rendering, which showed a low wall around a sleek pavillion, and suggested the nonpayers could park their bottoms there.”

Let them eat tuna fish!

Currently, LOVE Park is the home of Christmas Village, relocated from the under-construction Dilworth Plaza.
The other night, we overheard this priceless exhange: “I love the Christmas Village. How long is it open?”
“Until Christmas.”

But, we digress.

Why should Philly stop there? Many states use the motto “---(State/city name) is open for business.”

We could one up them with “Philly is up for sale.”

Our first candidate would be the dismal plaza of the love-it-or-hate-it Municipal Services Building across the way with its sorry Sorry and other game pieces. Pennsylvania politicians seem to love gambling. Why not put those pieces to work and turn the place into a Gaming Village?

And, since Clarke loves to promote advertising on city property and public spaces, the Brobdingnagian Frank Rizzo statue presents epic and heretofore unexplored revenue opportunities. Each month — even each week! — a different company could promote its business on a T-shirt worn by Hizzoner.

--Karen Heller

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