Today, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC ) along with Mayor Nutter and City and State Officials broke ground for the Race Street Pier, the first new public space of its kind on the Central Delaware River Waterfront.
In addition to breaking ground for this new park, DRWC announced a new initiative, the Race Street Connector, which will create a new attractive and dramatic experience for residents and visitors from Old City to walk, bike or drive from 2nd and Race Streets to Columbus Boulevard to this exciting new pier.
"After years of planning and discussion the revitalization of the Delaware River waterfront is beginning to quickly take shape, driven by world-class design and community involvement," said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. "The Race Street Pier will be a spectacular new park which will engage people from the adjacent neighborhoods, people from all parts of the City and tourists in a wonderful new way to experience the majestic Delaware River. I want to thank the many community leaders, and funders who have worked with us to bring this project to fruition. We are truly creating a waterfront that will be enjoyed by generations of Philadelphians to come."
“The new Race Street Pier is an early action project of the Civic Vision which will set new standards of excellence in design and public input that will have far reaching impact beyond this new park,” said Tom Corcoran, president of DRWC. “The Race Street Pier represents a significant investment in a high quality public space intended to serve as a catalyst for the adjacent area and future development of the Central Delaware River Waterfront. The new Race Street Connector project is another exciting addition to this waterfront program and is yet another example of our commitment to reconnect the City to the waterfront through key streets, which is an important principle of the new Master Plan for the Central Delaware.”
With this initiative, DRWC and the City of Philadelphia will develop a strong foundation on which they can begin to add other essential elements to the revitalization of the central Delaware. The Race Street Pier will be an integral part of a series of open space improvements proposed every half mile along the central Delaware as part of the new Master Plan.
The new Race Street Pier is scheduled to open in late Spring of 2011. This project will serve as an early example of high quality open space along the Central Delaware Waterfront.
Funding for new park has been provided by the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,William Penn Foundation, a Pew Charitable Trusts challenge grant, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Coastal Zone Management).
In February 2009, Mayor Nutter together with DRWC announced funding was secured for design and construction of a one acre public park on the vacant pier at the base of Race Street, immediately south of the Ben Franklin Bridge. DRWC and the City of Philadelphia issued a Request for Proposals to provide design, construction documentation, and construction administration services for improvements to Pier 11 with the goal to develop Pier 11 into a publicly accessible riverfront amenity for residents and tourists. With public input and the leadership of the DRWC Planning Committee led by Marilyn Jordan Taylor, Dean, Penn Design, University of Pennsylvania and Alan Greenberger, Executive Director Philadelphia City Planning Commission, Acting Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and Commerce Director, awarded the contract for the project design to James Corner Field Operations, a nationally recognized landscape design team whose credits include the acclaimed High Line in NYC.
One of the first powerful design moves was to rename the pier from Pier 11 to the Race Street Pier; reinforcing the relationship of the pier to the city street grid, reestablishing the historic name of the pier and its role as a public space, and immediately registering its location in the City, providing a new mental map of the waterfront.
The physical design of the pier is split into two levels - an upper level with a grand sky promenade and a lower level for passive recreation and social gathering. A dramatic ramp rises along the north face alongside the bridge, dramatizing the sense of arriving in the space of the river. A lower terrace supports a lawn with generous seating and social space. The new park will feature 37 mature, 8 inch caliper, nearly fully grown trees which will provide instant dramatic impact upon opening.
DRWC has been seeking $2,500 donations to sponsor the additional cost of each of the 37 trees needed for the park. Each tree donor will be recognized in the paving at the base of each sponsored tree. At this time, ten trees have been generously donated. Tree donations are tax deductible. For more information, visitwww.delawareriverwaterfrontcorp.com