New Spots are Coming to the Philadelphia Zoo

The Philadelphia Zoo continues its transformation with its largest construction project to date, including a new parking garage, landscaping and lighting

(September 28, 2012) - The transformation of the Philadelphia Zoo continues as it prepares to welcome 683 new “spots” at today’s ground breaking for The Centennial District Intermodal Transportation Center Project, an effort that will improve the visitor experience at the Zoo with the addition of a parking garage, new sustainable landscaping and dramatically improved streetscape lighting and traffic signaling. Philadelphia Zoo CEO Vikram Dewan was joined by Zoo Chairman of the Board, Jay H. Calvert, Jr., Esq. and Deputy Mayor and Zoo Board Member Michael DiBerardinis for today’s announcement.

The project will include a 4-story 683 space parking garage, and lighting, traffic and landscaping improvements in and around 34th Street, Zoo Drive and Girard Avenue. Developments will make the area safer for pedestrians and vehicles while improving traffic flow and easing parking issues.

“The visitor experience at the Zoo is changing in more ways than one,” said Philadelphia Zoo CEO Vikram Dewan. “Last month we unveiled the new Great Ape Trail, a first-of-its-kind exhibit that allows animals more opportunities to travel. This month we are breaking ground on an ambitious project including a new parking garage, enhanced landscaping by our entrance and better lighting. We want our guests’ time here to be enjoyable from start to finish, so it is important to make sure their experience is a good one from the moment they arrive.”

The approximate cost of the project is $24 million and is the Zoo’s largest single construction/landscaping project to date. The project will be funded by a mix of federal, state, city and additional Zoo investment.

In 2005 the Zoo received a $7 million federal transportation grant, which will partially fund this project and is the largest federal grant the Zoo has received to date. Congressman Chakah Fattah is a longtime supporter of the Zoo and has maintained a long-term keen interest in the development of this project for the benefit of the community and visitors to the Centennial District.

The Centennial District Intermodal Transportation Center is one of two significant construction projects now underway at the Zoo. KidZooU--The Hamilton Family Children’s Zoo & Faris Family Education Center is also under construction and is expected to open in spring 2013. The capital campaign for this project is approximately $32.3 million.

The Philadelphia Zoo is an economic driver in the region, creating jobs and with a financial impact spanning a multitude of business sectors from construction, materials, services and labor to architecture and design, in addition to its full-time and part-time employment.

With the assistance of consultants Urban Partners, the Zoo conducted an economic impact study that evaluated an eleven-year period beginning in 2004 and projecting through 2014, in order to ensure a balance between the Zoo’s demonstrated performance and its projected plans and anticipated trends.

The study calculates a total economic impact of $244 million from the Zoo’s construction projects during this period. “The zoo of tomorrow is going to look a lot different than the Zoo of today,” said Dewan. “With a new animal trail system, new transportation benefits and a new children’s zoo coming soon, we are continuing to evolve the experience for both visitors and animals, and setting a new standard for zoos nationwide.”