By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Work crews today are launching a nearly yearlong renovation of the north apron of City Hall, adjacent to the recently reopened Dilworth Park.

On the north apron of City Hall, fencing has been installed to prevent pedestrians from getting close to what is about to become a major work zone.

Mark McDonald, the mayor’s spokesman, says the $1.7-million makeover of that area is getting underway now that the western portion of City Hall — now known as Dilworth Park — is complete.

“The city, when the Dilworth Park project was being planned, decided it was also a smart thing to engage in improvements across the northeast end of the City Hall apron,” McDonald told KYW Newsradio this morning.

The project will be done in two phases.   The first involves the center portion of the apron, which intersects with Broad Street.

“It will focus on such things as replacing the broken and cracked concrete of the apron,” says McDonald.  “We plan to reset the steps that lead up to the courtyard.”

Crews will also install new fences at the four portals leading to the City Hall courtyard, and new bollards on the perimeter of the apron that prevent cars from driving up onto the sidewalk.   Planters will also be added.

That first portion of the project is scheduled to be complete by late August.  Work will then cease during September, because of the visit of Pope Francis.

McDonald says the second phase — covering the northeast corner of the City Hall apron — will begin later in the fall.

“The goal is to replace the broken concrete and generally spruce things up, as the rest of Dilworth Park is on the west side,” he says.

The entire project, funded by the city, is to be complete by next spring.  McDonald admits this is mainly a sprucing-up, and the end result won’t be as spectacular as the Dilworth Park renovation.  “It will not be quite as ornate as the Dilworth Park section is,” he notes.

The Dilworth Park makeover cost $55 million, much of it federal funding.