Press release

Center City District Announces Two-Year Leadership Transition Plan

JoAnn Loviglio
T 215.440.5546


Founding President Paul Levy To Shift Into Non-Executive Board Leadership Role, Effective January 1, 2024; CCD Board Unanimously Approves V.P. Prema Katari Gupta as Successor

PHILADELPHIA (February 7, 2023) – Center City District (CCD) Board Chairman John Connors has announced a two-year leadership transition plan approved by the Board of the CCD at its meeting today, February 7, 2023.

In order to ensure an orderly plan of leadership succession, Paul R. Levy, who has served since January 1, 1991 as the only chief executive of the CCD since its founding, will remain as President and CEO through December 31, 2023.

This morning, the board unanimously approved Prema Katari Gupta, currently CCD’s Vice President for Parks and Public Realm, to become CCD’s President and CEO, effective January 1, 2024.

“On behalf of the entire CCD Board, I would like to express how pleased we are with the transition plan formally approved today,” CCD Board Chair John Connors said. “We wanted to maintain continuity while ensuring an orderly process of change, building upon CCD’s solid financial foundation and strong senior management team, while promoting someone from within who has an established track record and a great familiarity with the Philadelphia context. Prema’s expertise made her the clear choice to be CCD’s next leader.”

Effective January 1, 2024, Levy will assume the role as a non-executive Chair of the Board through December 31, 2024, stepping back from day-to-day management of CCD operations but continuing to play supportive role, assisting with the transition, providing strategic guidance for the CCD and helping advance several of the organization’s key new initiatives.

“I have known Prema for nearly 20 years. She started at CCD only three weeks before the pandemic changed everything. Amid the many challenges that Center City faced in the weeks and months that followed, her expertise, ideas and leadership were instrumental in maintaining and enhancing our mission –- from ensuring that our parks and public spaces were attractive and welcoming, to creating innovative strategies to support property owners, businesses, and community leaders and residents,” CCD President and CEO Paul R. Levy said. “I look forward to continue working with Prema and the Board over the next two years to build on CCD’s three decades of strong momentum.”

For the balance of 2023, she will continue in her roles as Vice President of Parks and Public Realm and Executive Director of the Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) as she builds her experience with all other aspects of CCD’s programs.

“It’s an honor to be selected to be the second person to lead the Center City District team, which under Paul’s incredible leadership has become a model for business improvement districts around the country and around the world,” Gupta said. “I look forward to continuing to serve the dedicated and talented CCD team and our many stakeholders. I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and for Paul’s continued partnership as we work together to set CCD on a solid course for its continued success and growth.”

In 2021 and 2022 with strong business support, CCD significantly ramped up on-street public safety efforts, adding a new bike patrol, expanding homeless outreach in partnership with Project Home and developing a routine process of coordination between the public safety staff of all city, state and federal law enforcement agencies, transit agencies and private security in office buildings and shopping centers. The net result was a 10.8% reduction in serious crime within the CCD boundaries from 2019 to 2022.

At the same time, CCD actively programmed its parks, promoted restaurants, retail and cultural institutions, while making landscape improvements in the office district and on Walnut Street.

In 2023, CCD is partnering with major office buildings, transit agencies and public safety groups to reach out directly to office workers at lunch time in building lobbies with information about public safety and promotional material about the amenities of downtown.

In the early summer, CCD will be partnering with office buildings to bring the types of athletic, cultural and dance events CCD programs in Dilworth Park to office plazas in the late afternoon and evening – all efforts to enhance the vitality of the public environment in Center City. Restoring vibrancy and a thriving live-work downtown is key to the success of the office, education, health care, hospitality and residential sectors and to restoring job opportunities for residents from throughout the city and region.

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Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions.