Real estate is first and foremost a local business. For 60 years, Kimco's shopping centers have served as neighborhood hubs and gathering places. We are embedded into the fabric of the cities and towns where we operate, and we contribute to those communities in meaningful ways, where possible. As part of our commitment to giving back, we were proud to take part in the redevelopment of a 330-student elementary school playground located around the corner from our Lincoln Square mixed-use development project. Lincoln Square is one of twenty Kimco properties located in and around the Philadelphia area.

In the first quarter of 2017, Kimco made a generous donation through The Trust for Public Land for the Edwin M. Stanton schoolyard redevelopment. The Trust for Public Land’s goal is to create quality community green spaces within a 10-minute walk for every urban resident in America. Since 2012, The Trust for Public Land has led an ambitious program to create green schoolyards in the Philadelphia neighborhoods that need them most.

Stanton School’s schoolyard before renovations began

The redevelopment of the Stanton School’s playground began in 2015 and was a true community project from the very beginning. The design process of the schoolyard renovation included input from the entire student body at Stanton School and the surrounding neighborhood. In fact, Stanton School hosted a 50-student workshop where students brainstormed and shared ideas for the new schoolyard with additional feedback from parents, staff, and neighbors. For this project, the students became the designers as they learned about the various aspects of landscape and landscape architecture, as well as discovering solutions to meet the needs of the community. While students and community members alike played a role in helping design the new schoolyard, The Trust for Public Land staff worked on approvals and schematic design. They also managed the site during the construction process.

Students and community members alike enjoy the schoolyard’s new enhancements

Almost three years later on February 1, 2018, the grand opening of the new and improved Stanton School schoolyard took place and the students had the opportunity to see all of their creativity and hard work come to life. The new schoolyard is fully equipped with various play equipment such as a treehouse with a tall slide and climbers. Also, a rubberized-surface running track and turf field provides a softer, safer place to play and exercise. The schoolyard features outdoor classrooms with wooden benches for formal outdoor instruction. With interpretive signs, rain sensors, and weather stations, the schoolyard allows students to learn about science and the environment. The site also provides an essential eco-friendly connection to nature as it absorbs stormwater runoff at about 336,000 gallons per year.

Stanton School staff, students, and community members unveil the new schoolyard

Mayor Kenney joins students and community members in celebrating the schoolyard grand opening

Students and community members love playing on the treehouse and slide

Prior to making the donation on behalf of Kimco, I had the pleasure of touring other schoolyard redevelopment projects throughout the City of Philadelphia. I was able to see first-hand the response from the community and speak to school principals and staff who were passionate about creating a fun, interactive learning space for students. The adults as well as the children were extremely grateful for the assistance to help improve their school. Having grown up in the City of Philadelphia and having spent nights and weekends in the spring and summer as a pre-teen playing sports at neighborhood playgrounds and schoolyards, I instantly had a personal connection to this program in addition to the local connection through our neighboring Lincoln Square development project. Whether it’s playing basketball after school in the schoolyard, playing dodgeball at lunchtime, or jumping rope at recess; these are the times and places where lifelong friendships are created.

Giving back to the communities where we operate is essential to who we are as a company, and will continue to be a priority of ours for years to come. As we continue to execute on our development and redevelopment strategy and create new communities within existing communities, Kimco is helping to create new experiences for everyone.