The busy 40th Street trolley portal station, between Baltimore and Woodland Avenues in University City, is about to get a major facelift meant to make the station easier to use, safer for pedestrians, and more active. The highlight of the renovation is a large new restaurant/café and more greenspace surrounding the trolley stops. This renovation has recently gotten the approval of city agencies and should begin construction very soon.
The trolley portal is where the trolleys between Center City and Southwest Philadelphia and Delaware County enter and exit the tunnel underneath University City and Center City. There are four trolley line routes going through the trolley portal: the 11, 13, 34, and the 36. These routes travel along Baltimore, Chester, and Woodland Avenues to neighborhoods and towns like Eastwick, Darby, and Yeadon and underground through University City and Center City all the way to City Hall. The current portal station is mostly concrete and has no retail amenities. So, the University City District, SEPTA, and neighbors have been planning a renovation for years to make the trolley portal more attractive, easier and safer to navigate, greener, and to add some retail. Andropogon is the firm designing the renovation.
The plan focuses on those green improvements and the new restaurant/café. It will be called the Trolley Stop Diner, a new franchise of the popular diner on Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy. The trolley portal’s “apron” will be landscaped for storm water management. There will be new lights, benches, bike racks, and planters added. The planters will be movable to allow occasional maintenance to the tracks and the covered bays for each trolley line. The restaurant will have a green roof and trellises for plantings so it will be covered in greenery. It will be two stories, with some outdoor seating in a garden-like setting.
The trolley portal redevelopment has the support of local neighborhood groups in Spruce Hill and Cedar Park, the immediate neighborhoods. It recently received approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment for a variance to allow non-residential uses on the site, which for some inexplicable reason was zoned for residential use. Construction is to begin this summer or autumn and take about a year to complete.
By, Gabrielle Gottlieb