Vare Recreation Center
Vare Recreation Center is MTWB’s fourth and largest park project to date. Located at 26th and Morris Streets in the Grays Ferry neighborhood of South Philly, Vare has been a pivotal public space and home away from home for its community for over 100 years.
Starting in 2019, MTWB began laying the foundation for the project via a series of community engagement and design activities that were intended to ensure that the Vare community played a meaningful role in every phase of the project. These activities and events included a project kick-off event; relationship building with community members through visits to practices and programs; Vare Studio - a research and archiving project in partnership with Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) and Monument Lab - to collect, preserve, and share photographic and oral histories of Vare Recreation Center; and design workshops where community members shared priorities, goals, and themes for the new site design and building.
While the design phase and associated budgeting process encountered some delays, the end result was a substantial increase in the project budget which ended up at approximately $20 million! In the spring of 2022, MTWB and its partners broke ground on the project which is now in the construction phase and slated to be completed in the Fall of 2023.
The Vare Project is being achieved through the City’s Rebuild Initiative, in partnership with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, and Philadelphia City Council. Improvements are made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax.
Years as a dedicated as a public playground
community member interviews recorded for the Vare Studio Research & Archiving Project
“The thing that makes Vare special is that we have become a family over time. This is not just a recreation center. To a lot of people, this is home.”
-Clinton Mike Carter, Vare Recreation Center & Community Advocate