Slowly, in phases and through various projects, the goal of revitalizing the six mile stretch of the Delaware River waterfront that runs from Allegheny to Oregon Avenues through placemaking set forth in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware is manifesting.

So much waterfront

In late May, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), which oversaw the master planning process, was awarded $310K for programming and the creation of a river stage at the Penn’s Landing Marina basin. Another $400K in grants came in for the creation of an outdoor plaza adjacent to the new Philly Fringe festival building, now being renovated in a former turn of the century pumping station located at across the street from the Race Street Pier.

The Penn’s Landing Marina is a public marina along the waterfront that stretches from Walnut to Lombard Street. In the master plan it’s identified, along with Washington (Avenue area) and Spring Garden, as one of three priority sites targeted for development to create a new vibrant and attractive waterfront lined with trails, parks, piers, and in the long-term, residential development and retail.

The marina now

Goal for the future

The goal of the programming is to “set the stage and show potential developers what could be down there,” said Jodie Milkman, vice president for communications and programming at DRWC.

The vision is to create a vibrant civic space and to activate the space through programming, things like neighborhood gatherings, or small concerts, with the exact mix of programming is still to be determined. According to Milkman, the goal is to have the space prepared and programmed by next July. This idea ties in with the larger vision set forth in the master plan of a ring of low-rise residential and retail development built on the ground around the basin, she said. It’s similar to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in its concept to connect the city with the waterfront and to establish the waterfront as a living space, but not in structure or design.

In late May, the City announced it had been awarded $1.2M in grants for four different projects from ArtPlace America. Philadelphia was awarded the most grant dollars of any community, followed by San Jose ($750,000) and St. Paul ($700,000). Combined with previous 2011-2012 awards, ArtPlace America has invested $2.8 million in Philadelphia communities.

Vision of Penn's Landing, hopefully, someday, maybe

When compounded with recent public meetings for plans for Phase II of Washington Avenue Green, the completion of Race Street Pier, and coalescing plans for the Columbia Avenue Connector, projects envisioned in the master plan are, one by one, manifesting on the waterfront.

–Lou Mancinelli