The Delaware River Waterfront has thrived over the past years thanks to the involvement and support from the Philadelphia community and regional visitors. What was as an underutilized portion of Philadelphia only a few years ago has become a vibrant destination for residents and tourists, featuring seasonal and permanent parks, residences, fine dining and constant community engagement.
The best part of this rapid development is that it is far from being over. As Philadelphians and visitors flock to the waterfront each summer, the demand for entertainment venues, spaces for relaxation and easy access to these newly constructed parks has led the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) to continue to plug away at the development called for in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware.
There are five active development projects now underway in addition to a full summer of programming, making this one the busiest periods in DRWC’s history. These projects include: Construction of Pier 68 and the Spring Garden Connector, RiverLink Ferry and water taxi operations, dredging of the Pier 3 and 5 marinas and the Market Street Inlet, and Spruce Street and Callowhill Street Improvements. In addition, the waterfront has seen a boom in private development with the current construction of One Water Street, Swanson Street Townhomes, the Fillmore Philly and most recently Bridge at 205 Race Street.
Construction of Pier 68 in Pennsport, adjacent to the WalMart, began in March 2015 and is on track to be complete by late September of this year. The Pier, which was designed based on public needs and desires in combination with DRWC’s long-term programmatic goals for more waterfront recreational areas, will feature a wide-open plaza for fishing and sunbathing, distinctive and whimsical furniture, and an “aquatic cut” in the pier, which will showcase the native wetland ecology of the area.
SPRING GARDEN CONNECTOR
As one of the city’s primary connector streets and public transit hubs, Spring Garden Street will be undergoing a transformation from 2nd Street to the Waterfront. This includes new streetscaping, sidewalks, and perhaps most importantly, a beautifully lit underpass. Currently, the streetscape portion is underway, including new sidewalks, street trees, decorative pavers, and curb bump outs for pedestrian safety. The fabrication of the artistic metal lighted screens that will be installed underneath I-95 is happening simultaneously, so that it can be installed after the streetscape work is complete. The project is on track to be completed this fall.
In addition to enhancing streets that already connect to the waterfront, DRWC is actively in construction to transform one-way streets into two-way streets on the waterfront side to allow for easier access to Old City and Society Hill. Spruce Street will become two-way between Columbus Blvd and Dock Street (also called the 38th Parallel Place). Callowhill will become two-way between Columbus Blvd and 2nd Street. Crews are currently working at both intersections to create left turn lanes from Columbus Boulevard onto both streets. All traffic improvements are expected to be almost fully complete by the Papal visit.
RIVERLINK FERRY SYSTEM
The Riverlink Ferry System, now managed by DRWC under contract to the DRPA, continues to grow in use and popularity. With frequent traffic between the Philadelphia and Camden Waterfronts for concerts at the Susquehanna Bank Center, trips to the Adventure Aquarium, Battleships NJ and other Camden attractions, the Riverlink Ferry is a fast and easy way to cross the water without the hassle of driving and finding parking. Service includes hourly runs seven days a week, which are augmented by extended service for all concerts at the Susquehanna Bank Center and for major waterfront events. In addition, a fleet of water shuttles are available for use during peak times, for charter and for scenic tours on Saturdays through the rest of the season.
DRWC recently purchased a new 52’ Ellicott Hydraulic Dredge in order to dredge the marinas at Piers 3 and 5 and the Market Street Inlet. Dredging operations are expected to commence mid-September to be completed December 21. Purchasing the equipment allows DRWC to complete the current project and affords the opportunity to cost effectively manage future dredging needs along the Central Delaware River Waterfront.
Because entertainment venues and social spaces are springing up all over the waterfront, so is the demand for residential space. The view of the Delaware River can’t be beat, and developers are rushing to make their mark on the waterfront space that is still available. Construction is currently underway at One Water Street, which will bring 250 apartments new apartments to Columbus Blvd and approximately 400 new tenants. One block away is the newly ground-broken "Bridge" at 205 Race Street. This 148-unit apartment building with ground floor retail located at the corner of 2nd and Race Streets is estimated to bring in another 250 tenants.
In addition, construction is currently underway for the Swanson Street townhomes, a 75-unit rental development located directly across the street from the Dockside condominiums and the Fillmore Philly, an world class entertainment complex located at Frankford and Columbus Blvd.
The Delaware River Waterfront changes and progresses every day thanks in part to public and private development and because of the active interest Philadelphians have shown in their Waterfront. DRWC has made extra efforts to improve social media platforms and interpersonal connections. For any further questions, comments or suggestions about making the waterfront the best that it can possibly be, feel free to reach out to us at any time via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015 has been bright for the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and the future is even brighter. We’ll see you on the waterfront!