As University City brightens in the coming months, one of its unique public areas is also springing to life.
The Porch at 30th Street Station, owned by the University City District, is a public plot of sitting space, greenery, restaurants and other attractions located at the Market Street side of the station. After opening on Nov. 2, 2011, the plaza is kicking off its second season on April 1.
According to Director of Marketing and Communications at UCD Lori Brennan, the array of services and activities at The Porch is expanding and improving this spring.
Some of the added amenities include The Porch Beer Garden and art galleries that will change each month throughout April, May and June. It is also the first time The Porch will partner with one of Philadelphia’s radio stations, WXPN, and sponsor local artists to perform live for visitors.
Another new feature is a food truck system that will bring new gourmet trucks to The Porch each month, which, according to Director of Planning and Economic Development at UCD Prema Gupta, is aimed to attract a larger student population.
Though The Porch held free exercise classes last year around lunchtime, classes such as “Zumba” and “BodyRock Bootcamp” will be held this season at 6 p.m. to “catch [commuters] on their way home,” said Brennan.
Despite these marketing strategies, Gupta said most of the changes to The Porch are part of “an experiment” to see what appeals to visitors most.
“The commuters passing through the site represent a huge amount [of visitors], but we weren’t sure who The Porch would appeal to most,” Brennan said.
“Students are users of The Porch, but this an area [in which] we would definitely like to grow.”
According to Brennan, The Porch is in operation throughout the year, but official event programming begins in the spring and continues through the fall.
While attracting a larger student population is in line with UCD’s goals for The Porch, creators of the site have some grander objectives.
Calling the 55-by-500-foot wide area outside 30th Street Station the “gateway to University City and Philadelphia,” Gupta said this is where many people gather their first impressions of the city.“When people realize [Philadelphia] is a concrete jungle, it might make [them] uncomfortable,” Gupta said. With added greenery and shade space, The Porch provides a getaway from urban life.
“The long term vision is that [The Porch] should look like a sliver of Rittenhouse Square,” she said.