June CDAG Board Meeting
Thursday, June 14, 6:00PM
Society Hill Towers Community Room
285 St. James Place
Call to Order
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: DRWC President Joe Forkin
DRWC Transit Study Update:
DRWC has begun a Waterfront Transit Plan and awarded the contract to Four Square Integrated Planning with Interface Studio. They had a kick off meeting to discuss scope, timeline and public outreach. The timeline began with the kickoff meeting and runs through December or January. They are tasked with two things. First: Data collection and mining valuable information in existing transit studies (from DVRPC and DVR Port Authority). Secondly: Coming up with a Long-Range Transportation Plan in consultation with community, stakeholder groups and Septa. Scope will look at connections city-wide including physical improvements and better connections to the waterfront from the city.
Long-term they will consider Columbus Blvd and options including light rail and bus rapid transit. The short-term goal is an immediate plan that can be implemented at the end of this study. At the very least they are considering increasing bus frequency along Columbus Boulevard. They are working directly with Septa to increase the 25-bus frequency. They will consider creating a bus route that runs the six-mile length of the water-front. They will look for opportunities to market and brand the connections to the bus service. The plan is Two-Pronged Plan and includes the goal of implementing improvements within an 8-month period, and secondly — a long-term plan to implement connections back to the city. They will develop a public outreach plan and schedule for meetings with stakeholders, regulatory agencies and the community. The goal is to develop an implementable long-term plan.
The Transit plan is multi-layered, and multi-modal. They will consider bike share, car share, pedestrian options and driverless cars.
New data will be collected as needed including traffic counts. Existing technical data will be evaluated.
There is a working train station within the Ben Franklin Bridge. It was built in 1926 and includes Mosaic tile. The station is inadequate with modern train lengths. Joe wants to open it up.
The Transportation Plan is part of the Master Plan and this study includes all modes of transportation. DRWC owns the ferry system that connects NJ and PA. They also own three water taxis. They are looking at a ticketing system or a pass that works comprehensively for train, bus, water taxi. Can it tie into rideshare?
Light timing on Columbus Boulevard has improved but it is still a problem. Some of the infrastructure needs to be repaired.
Columbus Blvd. is considered the reliever lane for I95 so PENNDOT is reluctant to take away lanes. DRWC would love to slow drivers down on Columbus Boulevard for joggers, trees and pedestrians. DRWC loses a tree a day. Light timing and signage can help to slow traffic down. They want pedestrians to cross the street comfortably and they want families with children to feel safe riding bikes on the boulevard.
DRWC owns the ferries and the taxis. They ran the taxis for two years and had about 4,000 riders a year. Taxi insurance is $30,000/year and the income from riders was not enough to cover the insurance. DRWC is in communication with Coopers Ferry Partnership to increase the seasonal ferry service to year-round commuter service. DRWC received a generous donation from a private developer — Pier 40 North. They are looking at the pier as a potential water taxis stop.
In South Philadelphia DRWC has been acquiring land over time. They have acquired all of the land from Pier 70 to Tasker Avenue and Reed to Washington Avenue. On the north side, they have acquired the land between Sugar House through Penn Treaty Park. There are two segments currently in construction. The Pier 70 to Tasker section has a generous width of 50’ and includes trail nodes. Where they can they have expanded into a recreation network. On off-road segments, they separate pedestrians and bikes. The southern segment will be completed in the fall. The northern segment trail goes all the way around the Sugar House casino. The casino was generous enough to build the trail for DRWC. The trail from Sugar House Penn to Treaty Park and Delaware Generating Station down to the Berks Park parcel will be in construction in about a month.
Liberty on the River:
K4 purchased land from the Sheet Metal Union. They have a plan for about 10 buildings and they will be seeking zoning soon. The segment next to it, owned by Tower Investments, has been sub-divided into three parcels. The rear portion was purchased by US Construction and they plan 184 town homes. The Super Wawa application has been withdrawn from the ZBA.
The federal funding will be based on ridership and density. Where are the population centers and visitor centers that they can tie into?
Festival Pier development is in federal permitting with the US Army Corp and the National Marine Fisheries. The Commonwealth owns the riverbed. They have collected the title for permitting purposes. Certain areas of the watershed are marked as valuable habits for the American sturgeon. The property is in and Biological Assessment and they are evaluating the property in light of the Endangered Species Act as a breeding ground for sturgeon.
Cherry Street Pier:
Cherry Street Pier is under construction. The property is 55,000 sf, built in 1919 by US government for US Fruit Company. They have studio space for fourteen artists. Rotating markets and a 10,000 sf space for art exhibitions. The entire rear portion will be an open-air park. The launch is scheduled for September.
Pier 34 South:
Pier 34 South is owned by Ensemble and they hired Digsau. They are the group that donated Pier 40 to DRWC and they are looking for financing for Pier 34 South.
In 1998 DRWC purchased a 1.68-acre lot that sits between Callowhill, Vine Street and Columbus Blvd. It was called the West Shipyard and it pre-dates William Penn, and is a significant historical site. West Shipyard Preservation Trust did a study in the 1980’s. Recently, DRWC received a grant to evaluate the site. DRWC found a bulkhead and a piece of the ships way. DRWC received an unsolicited proposal for the development of the site. DRWC will release an RFP on June 20, collect proposals and review them in August. The Wood Street Steps are the original steps that led to the waterfront. They expect development to respect and provide connections to the historic elements of the site.
DRWC is committed to preserving the historic elements with private development. There is also interest in creating a historical heritage site that can be a destination for the public good. This is an active historical site. For CDAG to support an historic development plan for Wood Street Steps, we will need a proposal that is an alternative to the private development plan. Stuart Harding is president of the West Shipyard Preservation Trust and a developer. He is working on development plan that will prioritize the historic significance of the site. This is an active historical site and there is a log with extensive information about the history of the site.
Penn’s Landing / I-95 Cap:
PennDot is working on a preliminary engineering study for the land from Chestnut to Walnut, and Front to the River. This is a $225,000,000 project with three components; 1) the Cap, 2) the extension of South Street Bridge from the west side of Columbus Boulevard to the east site and 3) the on-road trail section. DRWC is accelerating the project. They are testing structures to accomplish the plan’s goals including physical and visual connections from the city to the waterfront. The current hump on Chestnut Street blocks views of the river. Construction will commence in 2021. By the 2026 centennial the project will be completed.
DRWC will continue the place making / temporary installations meant to focus attention on the waterfront and draw people to the area. DRWC believes that investment in good quality projects and infrastructure will lead to good quality private development.
On Delaware Avenue and Fairmount Avenue, north of the Lukoil, Gene Desimone purchased a property and proposed an auto show room with a café and apartments on top. The plan was for a roughly 100’ tall building with 8 stories. It received support from NLNA Zoning. The project has been modified and the new proposal requires variances. Zoning allows a FAR of 500%. He’s going for 13,433%. Zoning includes a 100’ height limit. He’s going for 194’. The CDO requires 40% open space and he is proposing 0% open space. The coordinating RCO is NLNA. When Desimone presents to NLNA Matt will invite CDAG members to the meeting.
Serious threats to the CDO are not coming from legislators. There is still disregard for the CDO from private developers.
FNA and Live Nation had an informational meeting including Joe Forkin, Councilmen Squilla and the President of Live Nation to discuss Live Nation moving from Festival Pier. They will schedule additional public meetings. Live Nation may want to move into the gravel lot north of the PECO Power Station. Live Nation will flip the stage to the river so they are not blasting sound to the neighborhood. The North Delaware Overlay, an earlier overlay, prohibits entertainment and assembly. The area is zoned CMX3. They do not feel they can have enough parking on site. They are talking to Sugar House about parking, which is .5 miles away. That distance does not comply with remote parking requirements, which must be within 1,000’ of the venue. From Spring Garden to Penn Treaty Park nightclubs could potentially be a problem.
Joe Volpe still wants to develop the PECO Generating Station into a multipurpose entertainment working office event space.
Live Nation must leave current site when DRWC kicks them out. This may be their last year at Festival Pier. DRWC is trying to help them find a new location.
Motion to Adjourn. Seconded.