Stakeholders including the Fairmount Park Conservancy, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, and the William Penn Foundation, recently released a $200 million redevelopment master plan for FDR Park in South Philly. The stakeholders stated that “FDR’s popularity, years of heavy use, and regular flooding have taken a toll on its infrastructure and environmental integrity.”
Philadelphia-based architecture firm, WRT Design, helped craft the future plan for the gigantic 348 acre park near the stadium complex. The plan tries to balance park users’ desire for increased recreational space with the need for stormwater management, ecological restoration, and access to nature. The plan accomplished this by lining the edges of the park with athletic fields while maintaining the center of the park for wetlands, woods, lakes, and lagoons. There are more athletic fields as well as more nature-filled areas in the master plan than there currently are in FDR Park. You may wonder how this was achieved without increasing the landmass of the park.
One word that is barely mentioned in the master plan is “golf.” FDR Golf Club is a public course that was established in 1940. The golf course sits on the western side of the park and encompasses nearly half of the park’s acreage. If you examine the master plan for FDR Park, there is no golf course. There is not even a reference to the golf course on the chart in the master plan that illustrates what is currently in the park and what is planned. There is a small section on the plan’s map that is labeled as “golf.” However, it is not a full course. It may be a driving range or an area dedicated to lease out to a compact golfing entertainment company such as TopGolf.
FDR Golf Course is a budget-friendly course. You can play a round of 18 holes for $17, which is unheard of today. It is a perfect course for children and beginner golfers who are not quite ready to play on a higher-end course. When we have been to FDR Golf Course, it has seemed busy. However, it must not generate enough revenue per square foot for the stakeholders. The plan clearly is trying to increase revenue-generating space in the park alongside its other goals. We imagine the new athletic fields will be rented out by the hour and for youth sports tournaments. Other public spaces may be rented out for parties and events.
Although we will be sad to see the golf course go, we do understand why the planners took this route. The golf course really does take up a ton of space that could be better utilized and open to more people. In our opinion, the master plan looks fantastic. It is not too often that Philadelphia has the opportunity to invest $200 million into one of its public spaces. This really is a once in a generation chance to reinvent the park.
We also must point out that this plan is not set in stone and the funding has not yet been secured. So, we will hopefully have a couple more seasons to hit the links in South Philly. Will you miss FDR Golf Club? How do you feel about the master plan in general?
Kyle is a commercial real estate agent at Rittenhouse Realty Advisors, a homeowner, and a real estate investor in Philadelphia. Kyle uses his extensive Philadelphia real estate market knowledge to help his clients buy and sell multifamily investment properties, development opportunities, and industrial sites.
Email Kyle@RittenhouseRealty.com if you are looking to buy or sell a property