A sea of asphalt parking lots would be replaced with green space, new residences and commercial activity, according to the Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG),
Hargreaves Associates presented “a conceptual framework” that incorporates the ideas in the Master Plan, but is not the final, hand-it-to-the-builders design, said Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) Planner/Project Manager Karen Thompson. It tests feasibility regarding logistics and engineering, and provides a sense of cost and time-frame.
The current cost estimate for the plan, which includes capping I-95 and Delaware Avenue between Chestnut and Walnut with an 11-acre park: $205 million in public investment.
The plan includes an 11-acre park, from Front Street to the river, engineered for tree planting on what feels like ground level, and it ends at the waterfront in a large public space framed by an amphitheater. Low-rise residential development with mixed uses on the ground floor would start along the middle of the boat basin, and then fill in with mid-rise near the Hyatt and on the opposite end. A small pier at the end of the boat basin will host residential and commercial development, but the end will be reserved as public space.
The Chart House restaurant is located on the pier but will be relocated. Chart House has told DRWC it would like to be the lower-level tenant in a new structure. Patrons would still have a waterfront view and be on the pier area, but space in front would be open to the public.
The Independence Seaport Museum building would also be torn down. The replacement would face south on the basin. A residential tower would rise above it. Near the Hyatt and the Christopher Columbus statue there would be additional park space, with amenities geared toward the local community, such as playgrounds and cafes. Buses would still stop at Penn’s Landing, but they would be stopping in a mixed-use residential neighborhood, rather than a “concrete island,” according to CDAG Chair Matt Ruben.
“It seemed they took every opportunity to make the pedestrian experience at the river’s edge more pleasant and more direct,” said Joe Schiavo, CDAG Vice Chair. “They lowered the path to the water’s edge as best as they could when they could. But by not changing the position of the path relative to the water consistently, it becomes more dynamic,” he said.
The CDAG members who met with DRWC about the work-in-progress noted proposed changes for the South Street Bridge. It would be rebuilt so that it actually crosses over Delaware Avenue and provides access to the river. “The main support piece is the tilted, huge, semi-circle arch, if you will,” Ruben said.
“It’s just absolutely marvelous,” said Richard Wolk who represents Queen Village. “This is going to be the renaissance of Philadelphia. This is going to make people want to come to the river, and make us a first-rate city. Because every first-rate city has a first-rate waterfront.”