6/15/2011

The New Vision for the Delaware Waterfront is Finally Unveiled

Although I am excited about the planning progress for The Delaware Waterfront, I am still not convinced that planners exhausted and fought for all the necessary solutions to changing the status quo from a disconnected oasis to one with a diverse array of access points and means of transportation.  Transportation was mentioned in the form of a new bus route, but emphasis on light rail seemed disappointingly slack.  Honestly from a planning perspective a new clean Light Rail system would fare way more tangible and promising to private developers and future residents than a new bus route.  Buses have a reputation of faring less comfortable than light rail and more congested due to seating configurations, and they are not as pleasant to look at.  Light rail just seems more progressive!



The four priority zones of focus are Washington Ave, Penn's Landing, Spring Garden, and Penn Treaty.  The 5.7 mile concentration zone contains pockets of land already in the city's control; the festival pier at the foot of Spring Garden Street, land around Penn Treaty Park, Penn's Landing, and areas at the foot of Washington Ave.  Besides being in public control, these parcels are also near transit.  The belief is a public funding effort at these sites will spur private investment nearby.  The planners pointed to a spike in interest in Pier 9 following the recent opening of Race Street Pier park, showing that private investors will surely follow positive investment by the city.

Washington Ave Before

Washington Ave After

Spring Garden Before

Spring Garden After

Penn's landing Before

Penn's Landing After
Photos Provided by Plan Philly

Most development in the areas highlighted will be low-to-midrise, and heavily residential and mixed-use.  There are plans for some taller buildings flanking Spring Garden.  Green space is key in the development of this plan with parks spaced every half mile along the six-mile stretch between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues.  Connections with existing neighborhoods are also vital, with the revamping of 16 east-west streets to improve water-neighborhood connection.  Get there was no mention of camping any portions of 95, not even in the two sections previously proposed.  Although revamping underpasses is an improvement, its still nothing compared to elimination highway obstruction altogether.  In the end, the highway still rules in this situation.

The entire transformation is expected to take 25 or more years, and $770 million in public funding, spread out over 30 years.  Of that, $356 million will be needed in the earlier years to facilitate the developments planned in those priority sites.  About $10 million has been spent to date on Race Street Pier, Washington Avenue Green, the multi-use trail, the dredging of the DRWC marina and other projects.