The City of Philadelphia will break ground Wednesday on a $16.5-million renovation of the city's LOVE Park in Center City.
The long-anticipated project will bring more green space to the park, at 15th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard near City Hall. Plans show a variety of trees, flowers and new crisscrossing fountains in the park.
The park, long a destination for tourists and locals who visit to snap photos in front of the iconic LOVE sculpture, is expected to be closed for a period of time as the renovation is completed. The revamp is expected to take more than a year.
The LOVE sculpture will be removed for a period but later reinstalled close to the same spot it's in now, according to PlanPhilly.
One group of longtime LOVE stalwarts, though, say they're losing out with the park's facelift.
Skateboarders, who favored the park for its concrete and stone steps, often used LOVE as a skate park, although skating there wasn't technically legal. The new green space, which will eliminate much of the concrete and stone, will make skating there a thing of the past.
The skaters who frequent LOVE Park have been expressing their discontent with the impending revamp on social media using hashtags including "#lastdaysoflove" and "#phillyhasnolove."
A group of skateboarders, all young men, many who said they'd been skating at the park near-daily for years, looked on wistfully Thursday as construction workers began to put up fencing around parts of the park.
"I didn't have any friends till I came to this place," a 23-year-old skateboarder from Germantown who goes by Q. Three said on Thursday as he looked around at the shiny silver fences breaking up the park. "I could've been in all kinds of street stuff."
For Mark Jackson, 24, from Hunting Park, skating at LOVE has always been an outlet for him, too.
"It's everything," Jackson said as he stood with Q, holding his skateboard.
They'd get chased out of the park by park rangers and police sometimes, they said, but in a city rife with drugs and guns, skateboarding -- even where it isn't legal -- was always a better alternative.
"Nobody comes to the park unless we're skating," Q. added. "This is our place. We shovel [snow], we fix the cracks."
The groundbreaking is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday.