Parks & Rec Commission Rejects $100 Million Velodrome Project in FDR Park

It doesn't pass three key tests in order to transfer the land.

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It looks as though the proposed (and privately-funded) Velodrome inside the friendly confines of FDR Park in South Philadelphia might not happen after all. The Philadelphia Commission of Parks and Recreation rejected the proposal by developers Project 250, stating it didn’t “meet three tests” for approval. Nancy Goldenberg, Chair of the Commission, explained that their role was advisory only and the letter of determination outlines a recommendation to Mayor Michael Nutter and City Council President Darrell Clarke. Ultimately, the Commission’s findings can be ignored by both parties in order to introduce an ordinance to allow the transfer of 3.9 acres of parkland for development. 

The letter states the decision to reject the proposal must be given “significant weight” by City Council and other City officials due to the City’s land protection ordinance. Although the Commission labeled the Velodrome “conceptually a worthwhile project with potential benefits to a number of users,” it ultimately dismissed the proposal on March 6, stating it didn’t pass three key tests in order to approve the transfer the land for development.

  1. The original use of the parkland is no longer practicable/has ceased to serve the public interest
  2. The proposed transfer/conversion is necessary for the public interest
  3. There is no reasonable and practical alternative

Project 250, the development team behind the Velodrome, sought to combine the construction of a LEED Platinum mixed-use venue with anywhere between $5 million and $15 million in improvements throughout FDR Park. Looking to make the venue a community-oriented facility, the development team also looked to provide space for city kids to learn about cycling and track racing, particularly the Cadence Youth Cycling program. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia expressed their support of the project because of this, but respected the Commission’s decision to reject the proposal:

We respect that decision. We also hope the city can find space for a velodrome for Philadelphia’s adult citizens and youth in the near future.

However, the project isn’t entirely dead. Goldenberg explained that it’s up to Project 250 and Mayor Nutter and City Council to decide whether the Velodrome project will ultimately move forward. David Scheuermann, Managing Principal at Sheward Partnership and a member of Project 250’s development team, could not be reached for comment on the future of the project.

We’ll have more on this as it develops.