PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- FDR Park in South Philadelphia is getting a $4.5 million renovation, the city announced Tuesday.
City officials say the vision is for this to be Philadelphia's own Central Park. The newest projects will include a new welcome center and destination playground.
"There are just a million things to do here, and every one of them will make you happier than when you arrived. That I can assure you," said Barbara Capozzi, co-president of Friends of FDR Park.
Capozzi says she has been going to FDR Park since she was a kid. Her vision for it goes far beyond how the 348 acres are currently used.
"That vision, that dream that has been held for so many years about helping this park recognize its full potential, it's beginning today," said Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. "It's a long time coming. The residents of South Philadelphia and beyond have been waiting for this for a long time."
The guardhouse at the Broad and Pattison entrance will be transformed into a welcome center with public bathrooms, a café, an information center, and equipment rentals.
"Especially over the last 11 months, public space is more important than ever. Public spaces are our sanctuaries," said Ott Lovell.
The Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department says that the park's usage has spiked during the pandemic by 50%.
Some say this highlights the need for green space in the city.
"It's wonderful. I mean, where else can we go?" said Sue Fagan from Northern Liberties.
She and her friend Judy plays tennis at the park every week. When they heard of the city's new plans for the park she said, "Oh my gosh, that's wonderful because it's already beautiful, so I can imagine it will really enhance it."
The renovations will take a few years and more fundraising to complete, but the push to promote the park begins in the summer when the Philadelphia Flower Show will be held there, outside, for the first time in its nearly 200 year history.