Sep 21, 2022 - News

Kingsessing Library in Southwest Philly to get makeover

A rendering of improvements to the Kingsessing Library branch
A rendering of improvements to the Kingsessing Library branch. Image courtesy of Rebuild Philadelphia

The century-old Kingsessing Library in Southwest Philly is poised to get a complete overhaul.

Driving the news: The city unveiled final designs for the $7 million renovations to the branch building at 1201 S 51st St. on Tuesday.

  • The renovations are part of Philadelphia's $500 million Rebuild project to upgrade libraries, recreation centers, and other public spaces, which is funded by the city's soda tax.

Why it matters: The library — which opened in 1919 and was last renovated in 1999 — has been in dire need of repairs for years.

  • The library lacks an elevator and instead has an unreliable lift. Meanwhile, rooms are going unused and the building has a faulty HVAC system.

Plus: The site, which includes the Kingsessing Recreation Center to be renovated too, serves as a one-stop shop for community members of all ages, Kira Strong, Rebuild's executive director, told Axios.

Details: Library upgrades include the elevator installation, plus a new roof, windows and HVAC system. What else:

  • New outdoor garden beds and a greenhouse
  • The building interior will be redesigned, making space for dedicated areas for teens, children and community meetings.

What's ahead: The library will close to the public starting Oct. 14.

  • Construction is slated to begin this winter.
  • A final design for the $19 million rec center project is expected to be revealed this winter, with a start date in the spring.
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