Penn's Landing Feasibility Study: PUBLIC REALM AND OPEN SPACE
The public realm strategies developed in Hargreaves' study build on the Master Plan strategy of creating and improving the physical and visual connections to the river from adjacent city neighborhoods. The Hargreaves study further builds on this idea by creating a strong connection through the site itself: a spine running north-south from the South Street Pier Park through the Marina Basin, up into Penn’s Landing Park and into the Market Street Development site. By focusing on both east-west and north-south connections, the new Penn’s Landing will be both a cohesive whole and a more integrated part of Old City and Society Hill.
Within this framework of physical and visual connection, a network of open spaces will activate the district and create new waterfront destinations. The concept for Penn’s Landing includes more than just the 12 acre civic park created by bridging over I-95; the plan also establishes a vision for smaller neighborhood-scale public spaces within development sites.
Penn’s Landing Park
The new Penn’s Landing Park will become a word class civic park, providing a flexible recreational green space for both the city and the region and attracting both locals and visitors to the area. Penn’s Landing Park is comprised of two spaces: a four-acre programed plaza created on the new I-95 cap that extends the city grid from Front Street to Columbus Blvd. and Chestnut to Walnut and a lower tilted park that is approximately 7.5 acres and gently slopes from above the east side of Columbus Blvd to the Delaware River.
Programming at the new cap over I-95 is intended to extend the vibrancy of Old City across I-95 and will include a seasonal water feature that will be the new home of the Blue Cross RiverRink in the winter and a sprayground in the summer. Additionally, there will be a café, children’s play areas, and festival and market space. A deciduous canopy of trees will provide dappled shade and comfort for visitors year round and four season gardens will showcase vegetation with eye-catching colors and textures. DRWC is working closely with Parks and Recreation and the Irish and Scottish Memorial organizations as the design of the upper park moves forward to ensure that the memorials are respected.
The Lower Park will be sloped down towards the water and feature open views of the river. A flexible lawn space will host various recreational activities and passive enjoyment. Additionally, a new amphitheater will be located in this area that can accommodate a range of performance types and sizes.
Spruce Street Harbor Park and Marina Basin
Harbor Park will become a neighborhood-scaled park to serve the new development at the Marina Basin and the existing neighbors in Society Hill by building upon an existing green space at the base of Spruce Street. The design for the space features a multiple-use lawn, café, playground with water features, gardens, and potentially a dog park that preserves the existing mature trees as well as the Christopher Columbus monument. The concept for this area also includes programming for the Marina Basin itself, enabling visitors to interact with the river and touch the water in a controlled environment. Activity ideas for the basin include a barge pool, kayak rentals, paddle boarding, and programs associated with the Seaport Museum.
Market Street Site
A new street connecting Market Street and Chestnut Street will include vehicular and pedestrian circulation that aligns with the north-south path through Penn’s Landing Park and down to the Marina Basin. The street will provide arrival and drop off areas for the potential hotel and residential buildings at the Market Street Development site. The podium level will include a small neighborhood park with food and beverage options, a playground, and an additional water feature. A new stairway will connect down to the esplanade level, which features outdoor dining, moveable seating, additional water features, and retail space. This street will feel like a true urban street, lined with active uses such as coffee shops and neighborhood-serving retail. It also allows for public transit access directly to the residential and hotel sites, increasing non-car access to Penn’s Landing.
Esplanade at Market Street Site
A new esplanade will be added to the water’s edge, featuring a beautiful allée of trees that provide dappled shade. The fifty foot esplanade will provide space for visitors to run, walk, bike, and roller blade along the path, while enjoying beautiful views of the waterfront. A fifteen foot edge steps down towards the water, creating another area for more passive enjoyment of the space. This esplanade lines the east side of the Market Street development site, which will have a variety of destination retail and restaurants.
Foglietta Plaza, an existing cap over I-95, is currently an underused public space that lacks appealing programming. The renovation of the plaza will improve a direct connection from Society Hill to the waterfront, while also establishing an inviting and peaceful public space. One potential idea for the space is to transform the existing paved plaza into a new green space that houses the World Sculpture Garden pieces. This garden was originally created in 1976 to showcase sculptures from all over the world and was located just south of the Hyatt Hotel. Returning these sculptures to a more prominent location for public viewing is an integral part of the redevelopment of Penn’s Landing. While renovations of this space are not officially part of the Penn’s Landing redevelopment and instead a part of a separate fundraising effort, considering this space within the context of the entire area was important for the design team’s work.
The Columbus Boulevard segment of the Delaware River Trail, which will run adjacent to Columbus Blvd between Washington Avenue and Spring Garden, allows for bicycle and pedestrian access for users who do not wish to follow the waterfront esplanade of Penn’s Landing. This trail section will include a separated, bi-directional bike lane separated from a pedestrian sidewalk. Where possible, the trail will be planted with trees and other landscaping. A conceptual alignment for the trail was completed in 2013 and this segment is currently in design. The east edge of Columbus Boulevard, below the new park deck, will feature new artistic tiling, lighting, and/or murals along the existing retaining wall.
South Street Pedestrian Bridge Extension
A new South Street Pedestrian Bridge extension will become an iconic gateway to the waterfront. The bridge will be constructed at a five percent grade and be wide enough for both bikes and pedestrian crossers. The extension will lead visitors down to the South Street Pier, while also providing breathtaking views of the waterfront and the city.
South Street Pier
The master plan proposed development on this pier. At the beginning of Hargreaves’ work, they investigated whether dedicating the entire pier for publically-accessible green space might be a better use of the space. After testing that idea, and in response to public feedback, the final plan proposes development while still incorporating a public space. A multi-use plaza at the tip of the pier could host a variety of programs such markets, seasonal food festivals or food truck events, temporary installations, and public art similar installations. The pier will offer a restaurant space that is protected from the weather and includes seating. The design also calls for green space and plantings, located closer to Columbus Avenue.