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Starbucks is arguably the biggest coffee brand in the world, with multiple chains already in Center City Philadelphia, but the proposed addition of an 11th Starbucks within walking distance of City Hall has created a controversy.

A coffee kiosk run by Dilworth Park Café operator Brûlée Catering is planned to be branded as a Starbucks location and carry Starbucks products in accordance with Brûlée’s franchise agreement.

Center City District President and CEO Paul R. Levy supports the cafe’s addition to Dilworth Park. “This project is providing a new amenity to the southern end of the park, helping further activate the area and buffer the park from heavy traffic volumes on south Penn Square,” Levy said in an announcement of the project.

But local artist Conrad Benner of photo-blog StreetsDept.com was highly disturbed by the addition of yet another Starbucks to the Center City landscape. “There’s already a Dilworth Park-themed coffee shop on the other end of the park,” Benner wrote on StreetsDept.com. “And there’s a [Philly-founded coffee shop] La Colombe mere feet away from where they’re building this Starbucks!”

 

There’s also a Temple University Starbucks right across 15th Street from Dilworth Park — and more than a dozen other Starbucks locations within blocks of City Hall.

A proposed Starbucks in Dilworth Park would join more than a dozen existing locations. (Google Maps)

Amy Boguszewski is a barista at La Colombe and does not seem to be concerned about a rival coffee shop opening nearby in Center City. “I think a lot of people do care about supporting their local industry,” Boguszewski told CBS3. “So I’m just glad that the city is conscious of that and I don’t think we’ll really be affected.”

For Benner, use of space at Center City’s hub of community activity could be better served in other ways. “I can think of so many better things to build on this tiny parcel of land, if the goal of this add-on was to better serve Philadelphians,” Benner wrote on his blog. “Things like playground equipment for all the kids who enjoy the park to use. Or how about a mini-public library with select community-related services. Or even free-standing mural walls to feature rotating murals by local artists.”

The new coffee stand is expected to open in April 2019.

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