The Delaware River Waterfront has long been an area of great potential, but it’s been prone to fits and starts development-wise (which reminds us, a preemptive RIP to the excellent Fitz and Starts, closing soon in Queen Village). Over the years, Race Street Pier, Cherry Street Pier, Fringe Arts and the River Trail have all started to transform this stretch from its dusty, car-centric past. Residential development, however, has been slow to follow thus far, with One Water Street being the largest project in years on the east side of I-95.

Vine Street development rendering, looking north

But ever since the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation – the quasi-governmental body managing development on the Delaware River – selected the Durst Organization in 2019 to redevelop the large parcel of surface parking between Vine & Callowhill Street at 300 N. Columbus Blvd., we were hopeful that things would proceed in short order. With big news about the Festival Pier site and the totally revamped Penn’s Landing Park development, we figured things would be rolling by now. That hasn’t turned out to be the case, but at long last, Durst is breaking ground on their first project, now dubbed simply Vine Street. We stopped by the site today and we are thrilled to report that work is moving full bore for the first time.

View of the very active site from Water Street, looking east towards the river
View of site looking north, showing the full 1.6 acre site and its western neighbors
View of south side of site, where pavement is being stripped
Heavy machinery doing heavy damage to the existing surface lot

As a reminder, Handel Architects has designed a modern apartment tower with 360 units, ample ground floor retail and a public park on the northern end of the parcel. The park will also include some of archeological artifacts from the site, which was long ago used for shipping and other industrial purposes. Included will be a pathway specifically designed to connect the river trail with the Wood Street Steps just to the west of the site, the last remaining set of William Penn’s original public stairs for river access.

Vine Street development rendering, looking north
Rendering of the tower, looking south from N. Columbus
300NColumbus Retail
Some much-needed retail should boost pedestrian presence
View looking south from Water Street
Drive aisle will separate tower portion from park
Site plan shows tower and park layout
300NColumbus Park
Aerial of park adding plenty of green space to the area
Current view looking up at the Wood Street Steps

This is a huge step for the entire waterfront. We are hopeful that things will continue to proceed and that we start to see more movement on the other projects we’ve mentioned. The Badger Group was recently announced as Durst’s partner for the Penn’s Landing site, a fantastic and important step in the organization’s commitment to diverse and equitable development along the waterfront. One thing that’s not mentioned in the article, however, is that this same RFP also covered construction management services for the Festival Pier site as well. Might we see some action for both projects soon? Let’s hope so, because it sure would be great if Philadelphia could greet the future visitors to the country’s 250th birthday in 2026 with more welcoming eastern waterfront.