Rebuild Philadelphia invests over $15 million in site upgrades to benefit the Cobbs Creek community

Renderings of the Recreation Center Available for Download

PHILADELPHIA – City officials, Councilmember Jamie Gauthier (3rd District), Rebuild Philadelphia, and community members today broke ground on a more than $15 million renovation project at Johnny Sample Recreation Center in West Philadelphia.

The multi-use building, which includes a gymnasium and multipurpose rooms for educational purposes, is getting a facelift through the Rebuild program – a City-wide initiative investing more than $550 million in Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers, and libraries. 

“I am proud to kick off the renovations to the Johnny Sample Recreation Center which feature an overall investment by Rebuild of more than $15 million in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I want to thank Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, PA Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton, the William Penn Foundation, and Fairmount Park Conservancy for their dedication and support to this transformational project that will benefit the community for generations to come.”

In March 2023, Cobbs Creek neighbors celebrated with Rebuild as they held a ribbon cutting at Cobbs Creek Nature Playground, a $1.6 million investment, providing a brand new nature-themed playground including swings, climbing sections, colorful play mounds, and water misters to foster imaginative play. The excitement returned today as the Johnny Sample Recreation Center and playground’s transformational improvements commence.  

“Serving this neighborhood, I’m excited by the updates Rebuild is making to the Cobbs Creek Park,” said PA Speaker of the House Joanna McClinton. “Following this summer’s playground opening, the upcoming project to improve Cobbs Creek Rec’s accessibility will mean even more neighbors can enjoy the center’s activities and special programming.”

Totaling more than $15 million in investments, the Johnny Sample Recreation Center revitalization will include: 

  • Partial demolition of existing building
  • New construction of two-story addition
  • Renovation of existing basketball gym and sitework (hardscape, landscape, parking area)
  • Site and building accessibility: paths from street/parking to pool level, LULA, pool lift, accessible parking spaces, restrooms for pool and building users
  • New multi-purpose room for large gatherings
  • New flex space for meetings and small group activities
  • New fitness room with new boxing ring, heavy bags, speed bags, and jab bags, and athletic flooring
  • New kitchenette
  • New entrance, reception area, lobby with custom millwork
  • New roof, HVAC system, interior lighting, and furniture throughout
  • Refinished basketball gym with new backboards and hoops
  • Landscape beautification: new shrubs, lawn, and trees
  • New site lighting, picnic tables and benches
  • Cobbs Creek Park and Trail signage
  • Percent for Art Bronze Bas Relief Sculpture Conservation and Relocation

“The updates at Johnny Sample will support Rebuild’s inclusive mission to provide resources that will serve a wide range of generations because we can learn and grow at any age,” said Rebuild Philadelphia’s Executive Director Kira Strong. “Rebuild believes that communities deserve the highest-quality facilities and that is why we are investing in four sites within this neighborhood. Johnny Sample Recreation Center has been an integral part of the West Philadelphia community, and now it’s a space where the community can safely play, learn and proudly call their own.”

With more than $15 million in investments, Rebuild projects benefiting the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia include Cobbs Creek Environmental Center, Cobbs Creek Nature Playground, Johnny Sample Recreation Center and Blanche A. Nixon Library.

“Fairmount Park Conservancy is proud to be the Project User for this city-wide initiative at Cobbs Creek Park and lead the transformation of the Johnny Sample Recreation Center,” stated Chief Executive Officer of Fairmount Park Conservancy Maura McCarthy, Ph.D. “With our expertise in capital projects, environmental stewardship, and historic preservation, this is the perfect partnership to fulfill the community’s vision.”

The Rebuild program will invest more than $550 million in Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers, and libraries. Made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, Rebuild prioritizes sites in high-need neighborhoods, as well as sites that are in extremely poor condition.  

Programming relocation during construction: During construction, Johnny Sample (Cobbs Creek) Recreation Center staff and staff-led programs will be relocated to the Laura Sims Skatehouse on the Cobbs Creek campus. Laura Sims Skatehouse is located at 200 S 63rd Street. Residents can stay up to date on Johnny Sample programs at Laura Sims here or call (215) 685-1995.

Rebuild is a historic investment of $550 million in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries across Philadelphia. Proposed in Mayor Jim Kenney’s first budget as a part of his vision for a more equitable Philadelphia, Rebuild’s promise to acknowledge history, engage the community and invest intentionally seeks to uplift pivotal community spaces, empower neighborhoods, and promote economic opportunity through diversity and inclusion.

Fairmount Park Conservancy brings parks to life. We work with the City of Philadelphia and its communities to steward our parks and nurture our shared environment, cultural resources, and public health. We lead capital projects and historic preservation efforts, foster neighborhood park stewardship, attract and leverage investments, and develop innovative programs throughout the 10,200 acres that include Fairmount Park, six other watershed parks and more than 130 neighborhood parks and gardens around the city. For more information, please visit, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @myphillypark.