New Park at Pier 53 Opens

 The path toward the land buoy and a chart of birds that might be spotted. Photo by Douglas Bovitt for DRWC.

 Pier 53 Park on the Delaware and Washington Avenue

 The pier where many Philadelphia families first arrived in this country now welcomes visitors from shore as the city’s newest riverfront park.  Pier 53 features public access to the pier and panoramic views of the river; an elevated boardwalk; access to the water; and ecological improvements designed to further improve natural habitat.

It also features the Land Buoy art installation by artist Jody Pinto, who was inspired by the pier’s Ellis Island-like immigrant history. Powered with a solar panel, the top of the buoy lights up at night. Visitors can climb partway up it with a spiral staircase.

The $1.5 million project extends the on-shore Washington Avenue Green park out into the water. It is part of the city’s goal to revitalize the Central Delaware, from Allegheny to Oregon avenues, as described in the Central Delaware Master Plan, implementation of which is being guided by the quasi-city Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

The plan calls for a network of public spaces linked together by waterfront trail and transit. Also planned are new residential, retail and commercial spaces and capping part of I-95 with a new park to reconnect existing neighborhoods to the Delaware.

The pier park is the northern-most portion of the wetlands park and will stretch from there to Pier 70, and it will serve as a demonstration of the wetlands restoration practices. If Pier 53 is successful, the rest of the wetlands park could be funded in part by entities that are required to do wetland restoration.


Renaissance Plaza Parking to be Invisible

Renaissance Plaza Rendering

Renaissance Plaza Rendering

None of the parking for the Renaissance Plaza residential/retail complex proposed for 400 N. Columbus Boulevard will be visible from the street.  Most of the parking will be wrapped in retail space and located partially below grade. FEMA requires the retail/residential portions of the building to be raised above the floodplain.  Renaissance Plaza plans call for about 1,360 rental apartments, 72,000 square feet of retail space and 19,000 square feet of office space.

The team representing developer Waterfront Renaissance Associates – an affiliate of Carl Marks Real Estate – said code requires about one parking space for every three residential units. The additional spaces are for future shoppers, many of whom, the team said, will want to drive to the area.

CDAG Chairman and Northern Liberties Neighbors’ President Matt Ruben joked that the development hit a parking sweet spot: “Just little enough parking to make some of the residents around there nervous. And just enough parking to (tick) off some of the urbanists.”

CDAG had already supported the project, and voted to continue that support. However, the group asked that the developer put in writing a previously made and recently repeated verbal commitment to include the planned public open space and other landscaping in the first phase of development.


Spruce Street Harbor Park Opens

Spruce Street Harbor Park

Spruce Street Harbor Park at Columbus Boulevard and Spruce Street

Take your pick of activities:  Lounge in a hammock orchard. Sit beneath an umbrella on an anchored barge overlooking floating flower gardens and the river. Drink Philly beer, eat Philly or boardwalkesque food, play bocce ball.  That’s some of the new Spruce Street Harbor Park amenities on the new summer waterfront space.

Workers strung market lights from the top of the Columbus Monument, which will be surrounded by colorful tables, 250 chairs and umbrellas that already line three barges anchored around floating gardens and two shipping containers repurposed as The Blue Anchor. The Blue Anchor will feature a casual menu reflective of Chef Jose Garces’ vision, with a unique take on his Village Burger executed by Garces Event’s Chef Adam Delosso. The bar will serve local beer and cocktails to complement the menu selections. Food can be taken to, say, a hammock. Beer must stay in The Oasis.  Three 80-foot by 30-foot barges make up the oasis.

Spruce Street Harbor Park will also feature a boardwalk (wheelchair accessible!), with more shipping containers turned into a snack concession and an arcade and the Mist Walk – a grouping of sculptural structures that will cool visitors off with a spray of water.

Go to the park website for more information about attractions and getting to the park.

DRWC worked with Interface Studio, Digsau, and Groundswell Design Group, to create the plan for the space, and is collaborating with David Fierabend of Groundswell Design Group to complete the project installation and with The Heads of State for brand design.

The park opens to the public at 11 a.m. Friday (there are some preview events before that), and will be open daily through Aug. 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. The hours for Blue Anchor, named for one of Philadelphia’s first pubs, have not been set yet.