SOURCE: Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

October 06, 2011 19:30 ET

Mayor Nutter and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation Light the Way to Connect Philadelphia to the Delaware River

PHILADELPHIA, PA--(Marketwire - Oct 6, 2011) - This evening, Mayor Michael A. Nutter and the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) officially lit the first phase of the Race Street Connector Project, a combination of design elements and public art built to enhance the quality and the ease of access from Old City to the Race Street Pier and the riverfront. The enhancements include improving the pedestrian and bike experience, a major new public art project -- a live-feed LED screen attached to the I-95 overpass over Race Street, showing real-time abstracted images of the surface of the Delaware River and a dramatic light screen along the right-side wall of the three underpasses between 2nd and Race Street and Columbus Boulevard. The light screen which is made of expanded metal with colorful lighting and bold signage will unify the spaces under the three viaducts and lead people seamlessly through the underpasses, past the old historic pumping station that will soon be the home of Live Arts/Fringe Festival and from there to the Race Street Pier, Penn's Landing, and other destinations on the Central Delaware. Other improvements include a dedicated bike lane, signage, benches, nautical bollards, increased sidewalk widths, improved crosswalks and intensive landscape treatments along the entire south side of Race Street.

"The Race Street Pier is one of Philadelphia's newest destinations and is helping to revive our waterfront," said Mayor Nutter. "The Race Street Connector, with its innovative and artistic design, will bring walkers, runners and cyclists to the Delaware River in a way that dramatically connects the river with the rest of the city."

In addition to Mayor Nutter, speakers at the event included Councilman Frank DiCicco; Tom Corcoran, president of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation; Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Director of Commerce; Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer, City of Philadelphia; Jeremy Nowak, president of the William Penn Foundation; James Corner of James Corner Field Operations; and Ryan Berley, president of Old City Civic Association.

"The Race Street Connector is smart planning, linking an already vibrant neighborhood to new amenities on the waterfront. But more than that, it's smart economic development -- a move that will help unlock the waterfront's potential to spur business and job growth," said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Director of Commerce.

James Corner Field Operations, designers of the new Race Street Pier, was hired to complete plans for improvements to the connector street. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society provided the funding for the design of these improvements and organized a vigorous civic engagement process with Old City residents that provided valuable input into the design of this project. Overall, the Race Street Connector was funded with $650,000 from the William Penn Foundation, an equal amount from DRWC's City capital funds and $120,000 from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

"The Race Street Connector is the type of step that generates momentum the private sector can build on. Momentum is what happens in world-class cities, and today, Philadelphia feels like a world-class city to me. World-class cities don't cede their finest real estate to scattershot development that limits public access. World-class cities don't wring their hands and say the waterfront is hopeless because it is controlled by a board of insiders operating in their personal self-interests. World-class cities don't spend years debating how to move an immovable object like I-95. A world-class city puts a civic vision in place, replaces legacy governance structures with accountable management and leadership, and empowers an organization like the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation to find creative ways to deal with physical barriers," said Jeremy Nowak, president & CEO, William Penn Foundation.

The Race Street Connector project also includes a new public art project commissioned by the City's Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy titled MARQUEE: an LED work by artists Richard Torchia and Greenhouse Media, which received final approval by the Philadelphia Art Commission in April of this year.

Marquee is comprised of a 60' by 4' horizontal LED screen mounted on the west-facing side of the I-95 overpass over Race Street in Old City. This LED screen will display live-feed images of the surface of the Delaware River, captured by cameras at the water's edge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The images on the screen are constantly shifting according to weather and lighting conditions, as well as boating patterns and river wildlife. In addition to drawing pedestrians toward the waterfront, these images, never the same twice, may also encourage pedestrians to re-imagine the cascading roar of the overpass traffic as the sound of waves. The work reciprocates the gesture made by the Race Street Pier, an urban park that brings the city to the river: Marquee brings the river to the city. This compelling new work represents the City's first technology-based Percent for Art commission.

Under the leadership of Rina Cutler, Deputy Mayor of Transportation and Utilities, DRWC and the City of Philadelphia were able to secure a $1.1M Pennsylvania Community Transportation Initiative (PCTI) grant to complete Phase 2 of Race Street which will include improvements to the north side of Race Street between 2nd Street and Columbus Boulevard. The project is being co-managed by DRWC and the City Streets Department. DRWC is responsible for design and construction documents.

The City will bid, award and oversee construction of the improvements. The improvements for this phase include: pedestrian and bike amenities along the north side of Race Street, the creation of an intersection at the I-95 on-ramp to accommodate a sidewalk crossing for pedestrians and a bike lane, ADA compliant crossings, landscape improvements consistent with Phase 1 and the Race Street Pier, site furniture, wayfinding and directional signs and a screen wall treatment for the underpasses consistent with Phase 1.

"The Race Street Connector together with the Race Street Pier represent a key component of the new master plan, using high end design to physically connect Philadelphia to its waterfront, creating a new urban landscape of improved access to the waterfront and a great civic space," said Tom Corcoran, president of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. "The next key connector street program will be at the intersection of Columbia and Delaware Avenues to improve the connection between the Fishtown neighborhood and the waterfront, including Penn Treaty Park, a wonderful public asset on the Delaware River. An RFP has already been released for the design of this new Connector program," added Corcoran.

The Race Street Connector represents the first in a series of primary Connector Street Programs proposed in the new Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Overall, the plan includes:

  • A network of civic and public spaces developed as distinctive public amenities supported by a public financing strategy focused on initial public investments in basic infrastructure (streets, utilities and public parks and trails) to serve as catalysts for high-quality private development on priority sites in supporting Philadelphia's transformation to a twenty-first century lifestyle city.
  • An increased program of free and sponsored events that bring people to the waterfront, enhancing the current program and expanding to additional locations on the waterfront.
  • Accommodations for diverse land uses along the waterfront, including the working port, hotels, commercial, retail and flex office/light industrial. The plan envisions the development of primarily dense low to mid rise residential neighborhoods with service retail, cafes, bars and restaurants, entertainment venues, and other uses that support year-round activities.
  • New development which maintains a character consistent with current Philadelphia building vocabulary and quality of adjacent neighborhoods and also matches near-term market conditions.
  • A detailed strategy for wealth building to create opportunity for MBE, WBE, DSBE and individual investors.
  • A multimodal transportation and transit plan that includes facilities for streetcar/transit, vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians that shapes and serves walkable communities and links waterfront destinations to each other, connects waterfront residents to employment centers, provides at-grade service to Center City, and is an integral element of the regional transportation network.
  • A realistic phasing strategy grounded in economic reality.

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) is a nonprofit corporation organized in January 2009, exclusively for the benefit of the City of Philadelphia and its citizens. DRWC acts as the steward of the Delaware River waterfront to provide a benefit to all of the citizens and visitors of the City.

The fundamental purpose of DRWC is to design, develop and manage the central Delaware River waterfront in Philadelphia between Oregon and Allegheny Avenues. DRWC intends to transform the central Delaware River waterfront into a vibrant destination location for recreational, cultural, and commercial activities for the residents and visitors of Philadelphia. DRWC will serve as a catalyst for high quality investment in public parks, trails, maritime, residential, retail, hotel and other improvements that create a vibrant amenity, extending Philadelphia to the river's edge.

DRWC is open, transparent and accountable in connection with its operations and activities with respect to the waterfront. Through the judicious use of financing, land acquisition and development capabilities, the Corporation will work cooperatively with city, state and federal agencies to ensure the realization of the City's vision for the central Delaware River. For more information, please visit

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