Sharon McHugh takes a look at Philadelphia's new waterfront plan
While many cities are well along in the process of transforming their post-industrial waterfronts, Philadelphia is just beginning the next chapter in revitalising its storied waterfront along the Delaware River. This June, the City’s newly appointed Delaware River Waterfront Corporation unveiled a Master Plan for the Central Delaware River Waterfront that will serve as the blueprint for transforming the waterfront over the next 25 years. Developed by Cooper Robertson, OLIN, and Kieran Timberlake, the plan re-envisions the waterfront as more vibrant, green, and better connected to the city.
The heart of the plan is a six-mile stretch of waterfront from Spring Garden Street to the North to Washington Street to the South. Within that area are three major nodes or activity centres that will welcome new parks and public spaces and a rich mix of land uses including new residential, retail and entertainment projects.
For Washington Avenue and the area far south, the plan calls for there major parks, significant wetlands preservation, as the area is a habitat for spawning fish, and a 50’ waterfront trail and linear park. This area will also see the conversion of Piers 38-40 into mixed use residential.
At Penn’s Landing, a major waterfront district for large scale pubic events that was established in the 1970s, the plan calls for keeping this area as the hub of large scale civic functions while enhancing its accessibility and year round use. Also proposed is substantial new residential and retail development, and a new park on par with Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square that will accommodate a variety of public uses, including spaces for passive and active recreation, a public art area and a new ice-skating rink.
Further North, at Spring Garden Street, the existing Festival Pier will be redeveloped into a compact mixed-use residential community that would be surrounding on three sides by the Delaware River. These buildings would be organised around a new park and public plaza. In the more historic Uplands area of Spring Garden, the intimate and irregular street system will be retained and extended, creating small blocks of conventional residential development, parks and recreation facilities on what is now the City’s ‘Colonial’ waterfront.
All three areas of the plan, which lie east of the city centre, will be connected to the city with a new network of streets and pathways. Full build out of the plan is estimated to cost $770m dollars, $356m of which will be provided through public funds in anticipation of spurring private development.