Perhaps you’ve noticed 2200 Catharine St. on your way to Sidecar for brunch, or en route to SoWe for happy hour. Until fairly recently, the fenced-in corner lot, which covers less than 1,000 sqft, featured some overgrown trees, some cracked pavement, and some dodgy-looking benches. It looked like it could have been an unkempt side yard, or perhaps a very inaccessible public space.
In the past
According to SOSNA, this space was created in the 1970s as a public park, but drug dealing and crime in the park resulted in it being closed to the public within a few years. A couple of individuals held keys to the padlocked fence for the past few decades, and maintained to park to some degree during those years. Back in 2007, a developer nearly purchased this lot from the City with the intent to build, but neighbors protested and the barely-used park remained.
Finally, after decades of underuse, Catharine Park is on the cusp of coming out of hibernation and becoming a public space once again. In 2010, the existing trees in the park were pruned, and a new street tree was planted outside the park on 22nd Street. Just a couple of weeks ago, the slab in the park was demolished, and the chain-link fence will soon go as well.
Local landscape architects Composite Inc. have been tasked with turning this space into a source of pride for the neighborhood. Included in the scope of the project are: Repaving the interior of the park with permeable pavers, replanting in three different planting areas, constructing new benches from old floor and ceiling joists, installing a cast-iron fence around planting areas, improving the lighting in the park, and creating a play area for small children. We pulled this rendering from the Catharine Park Facebook page.
She's gonna be really attractive
Funding for the project is coming primarily from a PECO Green Region Grant and SOSNA. Neighborhood contributions are also footing the bill for Catharine Park, and SOSNA is coordinating collections from residents and businesses. Folks who contribute $150 will get a monogrammed paver, and anyone that donates $1000 or more will get their name, business, or cause on a mounted plaque in the park. Interested in contributing? Click here.
We’re thinking that Catharine Park will be a huge success and will help enliven the 22nd Street corridor. SOSNA speculates that this park, once complete could be a tremendous model for other similar lots across the city. And that sounds pretty good to us.