On Tuesday, April 10th, area professionals and students congregated outdoors at 1300 Noble Street for the sold out event Reviving Industrial Space & Igniting Neighborhood Transformation. Before the tours of the highly anticipated Rail Park and surrounding neighborhood, the event began with opening remarks by Michael Garden, Vice Chair of the Friends of The Rail Park and Bryan Hanes, Founding Principal of Studio Bryan Hanes, as well as Aaron Cohen and Craig Grossman, General Partners of Arts + Crafts Holdings. Garden explained that the vision for The Rail Park, a three-mile greenway traversing an unused rail line that weaves through Philadelphia’s industrial underpinnings, is for it to become a truly connective feature for Philadelphia communities. Cohen and Grossman gave inspiring perspective into their efforts to reactivate surrounding historic structures to cultivate a rich community of entrepreneurs, artists, and makers. Themes of revival, authenticity, community, and connection emanated as each speaker offered unique perspective and background on The Rail Park and surrounding area.
The tour then began at the first ¼ mile section of the Rail Park with Garden and Hanes providing attendees with their first peak into a place that will surely become a Philadelphia fixture. Garden and Hanes are hyper aware of the importance of ensuring that the park is connected to the community – the Rail Park will not be one neighborhood’s park or that of one group, it will be a city park for all. Here, no detail is too small. The design thoroughly incorporates the industrial heritage of the area from replicating the original vegetation to huge industrial style swings where park goers can sit and take in a view of the neighborhood skyline. From the Rail Park, Cohen and Grossman led the tour to 990 Spring Garden Street and 448 N 10th Street, projects of Arts + Crafts Holdings. At these locations, the pair is committed to restoring the original character of the buildings to serve as a complementary force to the entrepreneurial and artistic groups that utilize them. Grossman even mentioned that they are more in the business of deconstruction than construction- they remove layers of ceilings and floors added over time in order to reveal the original beauty of their buildings. The tour left attendees with an inspiring sense of renewal for the city. Together, projects highlighted at this event will create something authentically Philadelphian.