The new Venice Island Performing Arts & Recreation Center opened Tuesday on a spit of land that has fallen into decay in recent years.
"This is a crowning jewel," said Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation. "We haven't seen a game changer like this in the 30-year reinvention of Manayunk."
The state-of-the-art environmentally friendly theater was built by the Philadelphia Water Department on top of a stormwater management tank. The Department of Parks and Recreation will maintain the center.
"This project itself is unusual and unique," said Parks and Recreation deputy commissioner Leo Dignam. "We don't usually spend this much money on a combined project that is beneficial to both the departments and to the community of people living there."
The $46 million center includes a 250-seat theater, basketball courts, green roofs, rain gardens, and a spray park.
Venice Island was historically the site of a mill, and then restaurants which closed several years ago. It was the location of a Parks and Recreation pool but was generally considered undeveloped.
Now, Lipton said, in addition to the performing arts center, Venice Island will feature a 175-spot parking lot and has a cleared area where a new housing development is planned to go into construction soon.
"To someone who lives here, the changes and enhancements to that piece of the island are spectacular," Lipton said.