The blueprint for the Central Delaware riverfront is nearing completion, but just a summary will be released this month

After years of collecting and distilling Philadelphians’ dreams for the Central Delaware Waterfront – and mixing in some economic and other on-the-ground realities – planners are nearly ready to release a summary of the document that will guide the future of the seven miles between Oregon and Allegheny avenues for decades to come.

But the full plan won’t be ready until about a month later.

A 40-page summary report will be released to the public on June 13, Marilyn Jordan Taylor told the other members of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation’s executive committee Thursday morning. DRWC is the quasi-city agency overseeing the master plan, and Taylor, dean of the Penn School of Design, chairs its planning committee.

Mayor Michael Nutter, DRWC President Tom Corcoran and other officials will kick things off at 6:30 p.m. at Festival Pier. Then the public will hear about the plan from four consultants: Lead consultant Alex Cooper of Cooper, Robertson & Partners;  Lucinda Sanders of OLIN, James Timberlake of KieranTimberlake, and John Alschuler, Jr. of HR&A Associates. Master Plan Manager Sarah Thorp said the audience will be asked to submit questions on index cards, and some will be answered during a half-hour panel discussion, which Taylor will moderate. Afterward, there will be time for attendees to mingle with the master planners and ask more questions.

Central Delaware Master Plan discussion

That event will end at about 8:30 p.m. But Taylor said the team will continue to work on parts of the document, including what zoning will be needed to codify the plan into code. The full report will be posted on-line about 30 days later, Taylor said. All public comment, both from the summary and the full report, will be due by mid-August, she said. “We therefore hope to be ready to go forward from the Board to the City sometime in mid-to-late September,” she said. Thorp said later in the day that “appropriate changes” will be made to the report based on submitted comments, and DRWC “will schedule a release party for the full plan in mid- to late September. At that time DRWC will also announce a new round of waterfront projects.”

Board Member Alan Greenberger, who is also Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and chairman of the Philadelphia Planning Commission, said the timing of the summary’s release could not be better. It will come on the heels of next week’s release of the city-wide vision portion of Philadelphia2035, the city’s first comprehensive plan in decades. “The waterfront is identified as one of the key, transformative areas” in that plan, he said. To be able to release the master plan for the waterfront a week later “is a great way to show how these things get done,” Greenberger said.

Race Street Pier, Race Street Connector

Key goals of the master plan include putting more green space and development on the riverfront and making the routes from neighborhood to riverfront easier, safer and more obvious.

While the master planning process isn’t a wrap yet, some “early action” items – geared to show the public that this plan won’t be gathering dust on a shelf – have been finished or are in progress.

Work on the Race Street Connector project – the street improvements geared toward easing travel between Old City and the river – began Tuesday, said DRWC Vice President for Development Joe Forkin.

Updates on Race Street Connector, other projects

The project should be finished by mid- to late-July, Forkin said, but the ensuing discussion points to a night-time event on the first Friday in August.  Jodi Milkman, DRWC’s vice president for marketing, programming, and corporate partnerships, suggested  an after-dark event to showcase the new lighting planned for the connection and what is already in place at the newly-opened Race Street Pier park.

“What about First Friday?” suggested DRWC Vice Chairman Jay Goldstein, who chaired the meeting. The First Friday of each month, lots of people are already in Old City because its many galleries are open late. Milkman loved that idea, especially because the Friends of Race Street Pier are already planning an event on the pier to coincide with August’s First Friday.

Forkin also gave updates on other projects.

Recap of recent DRWC events, and summary of summer events.

Several board members had questions on Race Street Pier park’s operating hours and security measures.

There is a security booth at the foot of the pier, and for now, a guard is either inside it or walking around the park 24 hours a day, Forkin said.  The park’s “soft-close” time is 11 p.m. By midnight, everyone must be out, and a fence is put up.

Race Street Pier security and hours

The fence is rather low, Forkin said. But work is underway on a 6-foot gate that would prevent anyone from entering after closing. When it is finished, Forkin said a 24-hour guard may no longer be necessary.

There are a few other final items remaining for Race Street Pier, he said. This includes interpretive signs on the history of the pier and the wharf drops – the notches once used in shipping through which the river is still visible.

Forkin said the roof work has been completed on Race Street Pier’s neighbor, Pier 9. Corcoran said that after the master plan is finished, DRWC can turn its attention to the future of Pier 9. Board members have already said they want to do a feasibility study, and Corcoran said he hoped to have an RFP out to find a consultant to conduct one by July.

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