It is no secret that Northern Liberties is one of the most development-heavy areas in the entire city, with huge projects sprouting up from the northeastern corner to the southernmost reaches of the neighborhood. All told, over 5,000+ units are planned over the coming years, necessitating a reimagining of the streetscape in the area as an influx of pedestrians (and cars) are all but an inevitability. We told you about plans for the main commercial corridor – N. 2nd Street – this past summer, when conceptual plans designed by KieranTimberlake and PORT Urbanism were commissioned by the Northern Liberties Business Improvement District (NLBID). Though the plans were mostly conceptual in nature, we were both excited and encouraged to see all of the thought going into the improvement of what is oftentimes an unpleasant pedestrian environment.
While visiting 2nd & Spring Garden to cover another nearby project (shameless plug to follow our Instagram and TikTok video updates for more), we revisited the plans to find that things were coming together for a new parklet at 2nd & Laurel, which is currently home to a wide intersection that reads more as a parking lot than as a street. This can be a pretty hairy place to drive or walk, as the convergence of Hancock & Laurel Streets lead to both roads emptying out to an unmarked asphalt sea. But as you can see in the rendering below, things could look rather different in the near future.
PORT Urbanism was once again tapped to help design this space, which was developed over multiple public engagement sessions. Plans here would substantially narrow the paved area, replacing much of the wide street with a landscaped park, with several parking spots as well. Additionally, a large bump out would be added to N. 2nd St., naturally slowing traffic while decreasing crossing distances for folks on foot. Trees, landscaping, and seating would be added to soften the brick-heavy feel of the area, which will also provide surface runoff benefits. We should note that these plans are not yet finalized, as funding is still needed to turn them into a reality.
We certainly hope the plans come to fruition sooner than later, as this stretch of 2nd Street would certainly benefit from such improvements. Green space, traffic calming, and pedestrian improvements are always huge wins in our book, especially when they are taking the place of what is currently a treacherous crossing in the heart of a bustling neighborhood.
We were also extremely lucky to speak at length with Kristine Kennedy, Executive Director of NLBID, who gave us a walk-through of many of the exciting plans for the area. Be sure to check out the video below to get all of the latest information directly from the source. And be sure to get involved with your local neighborhood and business groups as well so you can be a part of the continued progress of our wonderful city!