Published on December 30 2020

Although 2020 was an unpredictable and uncertain year (to say the least) the future of the Philly Waterfront is bright. Here at the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), we’re celebrating this year’s success with a year-end list of the Top 5 Philly Waterfront Milestones. The great news is, if you live, work, or play in or near Philly, these projects are going to make your life better for years to come.

1. Delaware River Trail Construction Rolls Along

As 2020 comes to a close, we have made significant progress on the construction of the central segment of the Delaware River Trail. Why is this a big deal? Well, come Fall 2021, you’ll be able to bike, jog, walk, skip, sashay, saunter, or whatever for 3.5 miles along the Waterfront, from Pier 68 Park in South Philly to Penn Treaty Park in Fishtown in the north, along a state-of-the-art trail. Think: beautiful trees, flowers, and other foliage, new furniture, varied surfaces for optimal use by different users, safety enhancements, a trail counter, and more. All of the park and Waterfront views that you’ve enjoyed, will become easier and more pleasant to access. As a bonus for our Riverwards folks, we’ve already started acquiring more land and easements farther north to extend the trail so stay tuned! 
  • drt central 14

2. Penn’s Landing Park Moves into Final Design

The new 12-acre Penn’s Landing Park is happening! We’ve spent the stay-at-home order working closely, but remotely, with all of our partners at PennDOT and the City of Philadelphia, as well as residents from all over Philly, to bring a four-year planning and design process closer to completion (these massive infrastructure projects require intense planning and plenty of patience). This Summer, we’ll share updates on the design, with many of the details directly influenced by feedback we heard from you. Expect to see final designs this time next year and shovels in the ground in 2022. And don’t worry - there’s still time to make sure your voice is heard. Fill out this survey to let us know what you want to see in the new park. 
  • park at penns landing - areial view


3. The Durst Organization Chosen for the Penn’s Landing Park Development Project

This year, DRWC chose The Durst Organization as the lead developer for the Penn’s Landing Development Project, located directly next to the new Penn’s Landing Park. We know the names are similar and perhaps confusing but they are two distinctive projects. While the Park is being built by DRWC, the City of Philadelphia, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Development Project will be constructed by the Durst Organization. 

The Development Project will see the transformation of over 11 acres of land currently used for surface parking into a mixed-use neighborhood that will reconnect the city to the Waterfront and complement the new Park next door. The formal selection of a developer for this site represented years of progress on the Waterfront and we’re excited that The Durst Organization shares our vision of a truly Philadelphia Waterfront, consistent with the community-supported Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Not only that, the development of these parcels will have an estimated $2 billion economic impact on the city, leading to millions of additional annual tax revenue for the City and thousands of permanent and temporary new jobs. And, there are no public subsidies involved in this development.  
  • durst penns landing market street view01

4. Initial Design Completed for Graffiti Pier  

The legendary Graffiti Pier will live on, remaining true to its roots as a public space focused on street art and graffiti. When we launched this project, we received tons of feedback asking for it to stay the same. Along with design lead Studio Zewde and an artist-focused and general public engagement process, we listened. The result? A design that embraces what’s already on the site, allows for more art, makes the space more accessible, shores up the pier structure, and adds safety elements. Seeing is believing: check out the renderings below. 

The next step is for DRWC to formally take ownership of the pier, which we expect to do later this Summer. Then, we’ll enter the fundraising phase so that we may start implementing this exciting vision for an iconic Waterfront destination.

5. Initial Design Completed for the South Wetlands Park

Oh, hey, South Philly! This year, we worked with OLIN to complete the design for a new six-acre ecological South Wetlands Park. Though the announcement may have ‘flown under the radar,’ we guarantee the final product will be a jaw-dropping ode to nature and our human connection to it. Kayaks, fishing, over-water boardwalks, and improved habitat for all the creatures that call the Delaware River home are part of this new public space. It’s like no other project we’ve ever embarked on. Throughout 2021, we’ll be working through the complex regulatory approvals for this type of in-water project, and we’ll keep you updated as developments unfold. 
  • South Wetlands Park

Honorable Mention

6. Construction Documents Complete for Frankford Avenue Connector and Washington Avenue Connector Streets

What are “connector streets”, you ask? These are the 28 streets that go under or over the variety of highways that disconnect the Waterfront and the rest of the city. Yes, there are actually 28 different roads that make this direct connection. We have been prioritizing main arterials to make them easier to navigate, safer for all users (pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers), and -- of course -- more beautiful, too. We want you to come to the Waterfront! Race Street, Spring Garden Street, and Columbia Avenue have been completed and in 2020 we finished the designs for Frankford Avenue and Washington Avenue

*For all of you who despise navigating Washington Avenue, we’re working to implement some of our planned improvements for the intersection between Columbus Boulevard and 4th Street, in coordination with the City’s plan to repave the entire road in 2021.

Philly, are you excited about the vibrancy, opportunities, and innovation these new projects will bring to our Waterfront? Good, because we are too! Let us know how thrilled you are about our 2020 milestones by giving us a shout out on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter using the hashtag #MyPhillyWaterfront.