LOVE Park’s Welcome Center, the spaceship-shaped building with dark windows that for decades has occupied a concrete corner of the plaza, will transform into a modern, light-filled restaurant surrounded by patrons sipping wine and eating on an outdoor terrace, city officials said Wednesday.
The site at 16th and JFK Boulevard is the future home of Loveluck, the newest project by Valerie Safran and chef Marcie Turney, the team responsible for the Washington Square West restaurants Bud & Marilyn’s, Barbuzzo, and Lolita. The couple on Wednesday were joined by city officials, architects, and others who gathered at the building to formally announce the project, which Mayor Jim Kenney said would turn the park into a fine-dining destination.
“It’s great for our city, it’s great for employment,” Kenney said. “It’s great for the buzz our city is currently experiencing."
Representatives from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department also unveiled the building’s new windows, floor-to-ceiling panes crafted by the building materials company Saint-Gobain, which has provided specialty glass for projects including the World Trade Center, the Kimmel Center, and the pyramid outside Paris’s Louvre museum. Saint-Gobain is donating $700,000 to the project, which is being overseen by the architecture firm KieranTimberlake.
Loveluck will accommodate about 180 patrons: 60 inside, 40 on the balcony in warmer months, and 80 on the terrace. Those seated on the east side of the terrace will have a view of City Hall. Officials said they hope the restaurant will open this fall.
“We’re so excited for this,” Turney said.
Safran and Turney are known for turning a few blocks of 13th Street into a thriving corridor populated with restaurants, bars, and quaint boutique shops. Loveluck will be their sixth Center City restaurant, and they are partnering with Terence Lewis, a longtime manager and beverage director for their company, Safran Turney Hospitality.
Built in the 1960s, the Welcome Center has in recent years been undergoing extensive renovations as part of the recent multimillion-dollar LOVE Park revitalization.
City Council President Darrell Clarke said Wednesday that an important part of the park rehabilitation was ensuring that it wasn’t designed to replicate other popular urban plazas.
“Philadelphia is unique, and this should be unique,” he said.