Philadelphia, January 6, 2010– Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) announced plans for the next generation of waterfront projects. With initial early action projects either completed or well underway, DRWC prepares to transition into the next phase of work, which will be greatly facilitated by a new two-year, $5 million grant by the William Penn Foundation. The grant will be used for ongoing development projects on the waterfront and will aid DRWC in realizing the goals outlined in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware. DRWC will leverage this grant to utilize existing capital reserves and actively seek additional grants.
”The development of the Central Delaware is a project that will reinvent Philadelphia’s relationship with its waterfront in 10, 20, 30 years from now. The plans we make today will result in a lasting monument of our dedication to green space, recreation and the value of community input for the next generation of Philadelphians,” said Mayor Nutter. “The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has made a very impressive beginning in implementing this community vision for the waterfront, and I’m delighted that they are being recognized for their hard work.”
As the Master Plan nears completion, DRWC will be identifying the next set of waterfront projects to be undertaken within the next two years. These projects will include key initiatives such as improving connections between the City and the River, enhancing or creating more public/green space along the waterfront and extending the Delaware River Trail.
As its first new project, DRWC plans to connect Philadelphia and Old City to the new Race Street Pier, now under construction, beginning with the Race Street Connector. The Race Street Connector will be built in conjunction with the Race Street Pier. A combination of design elements are proposed to enhance connectivity to the river and to improve the pedestrian and bike experience, including a dedicated bike lane, signage, benches, bollards, curb realignments, increased sidewalk widths, crosswalks, plantings and a dramatic light screen along the right-side wall of the underpasses.
An interactive light screen will unify the spaces underneath the expressways above and draw people to the waterfront. The screen is to be made of expanded metal with colorful lighting and bold signage. A pair of markers– one in the City and one at the River – will provide additional markers to further emphasize the closeness of the City to the River.
“These funds from the William Penn Foundation will not be sitting in a bank account,” said Tom Corcoran, president of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. “For example, $650,000 will be dedicated immediately to complete the Race Street Connector.”
DRWC’s Master Planners have identified 34 streets that already run under I-95 to Columbus Boulevard/Delaware Avenue. DRWC will prioritize 10-12 key connections and undertake within the next two years 2-3 new connector projects to enhance and improve access to the waterfront, addressing the perceived physical and esthetic barrier created by I-95. The Master Plan will also detail a series of new public parks/green spaces at key locations along the waterfront which DRWC will begin to pursue.
“What’s really special about this work is the fact that it grew directly from public input,” said Feather O. Houstoun, president of the William Penn Foundation. “People said they wanted better public access and more tangible links between their city and the waterfront. The Race Street Connector is a tremendous example of how a great city undertakes a major urban redesign.”
Two years ago, Mayor Nutter called for smart development of the Central Delaware Waterfront and created the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation to carry out this initiative. Mayor Nutter empowered this new organization with a strong independent board and charged it with an unprecedented level of transparency to insure that the public would have a strong voice in any future planning.
For the past two years, DRWC has been dedicated to taking the steps necessary to catalyze the civic vision for the waterfront, setting the course for Philadelphia to reclaim its waterfront. Early actions included the first stages of a new waterfront bike and recreation trail, improving public access to the River by creating green public spaces along the Delaware River, which included Washington Avenue Green and the Race Street Pier, and the thoughtful development of a comprehensive Master Plan for the Central Delaware River Waterfront. DRWC either has or will complete each of these projects on time and on budget.
“A commitment like this from the William Penn Foundation demonstrates strong support of the City’s vision for an accessible and green waterfront designed by community input,” said Councilman Frank DiCicco.
Feather Houstoun added, “We are confident that this grant will continue the positive momentum that has been generated by DWRC and the City, but in the final analysis, we understand that the shape of the waterfront will be determined the Master Plan and subsequent zoning recommendations that will guide private sector investment.”
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) is a nonprofit corporation organized exclusively for the benefit of the City of Philadelphia and its citizens. DRWC acts as the steward of the Delaware River waterfront to provide a benefit to all of the citizens and visitors of the City.
The fundamental purpose of DRWC is to design, develop and manage the central Delaware River waterfront in Philadelphia between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues. DRWC intends to transform the central Delaware River waterfront into a vibrant destination location for recreational, cultural, and commercial activities for the residents and visitors of Philadelphia. DRWC will serve as a catalyst for high quality investment in public parks, trails, maritime, residential, retail, hotel and other improvements that create a vibrant amenity, extending Philadelphia to the river’s edge.
DRWC is open, transparent and accountable in connection with its operations and activities with respect to the waterfront. Through the judicious use of financing, land acquisition and development capabilities, the Corporation will work cooperatively with city, state and federal agencies to ensure the realization of the City’s vision for the central Delaware River.