Breaking news: Delaware River Waterfront Corporation announces tree funding campaign for the new Race Street Pier

The Race Street Pier, located on Columbus Boulevard at the foot of Race Street, is one of the first public spaces to be designed and built by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation and is an Early Action project as part of the Civic Vision for the Central Delaware Riverfront.

Unlike the standard 4 inch caliper trees that were originally budgeted for the park that would take years to mature, the new trees are much larger, 8 inch caliper, and are nearly fully grown which will provide a dramatic addition to this already exciting project.  The trees will be planted in early spring 2011 in time for the opening of the park in late spring 2011.

DRWC is 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.  Tree donations are tax deductible.

The DRWC board will serve as the fundraising committee for the Race Street Pier Tree Fund.  The effort is being chaired by DRWC board member Avi D. Eden.

The Race Street Pier project is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the City of Philadelphia, the William Penn Foundation and by a challenge grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“With the help of all of our civic and funding partners and the creativity of our landscape architectural firm Field Operations, DRWC will transform the Race Street Pier into a landmark public space that will set a new standard of excellence in design along the Central Delaware Waterfront,” said Tom Corcoran, president of DRWC.

For more information on the Race Street Pier Tree Fund, please visit the DRWC site.

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 what was then called Pier 11 with the goal of developing a publicly accessible riverfront amenity for residents and tourists. Twenty-six proposals were received from firms across the country and narrowed to four finalists who presented their credentials to the public in a community engagement meeting on June 17, 2009.

With public input and advice from the DRWC Planning Committee led by Marilyn Jordan Taylor and Alan Greenberger, the DRWC Board voted to award the bid to James Corner Field Operations, an internationally recognized landscape architecture and urban design firm which recently received a national award for their design of the widely acclaimed High Line Park in New York City. The design team was engaged in August of 2009 and has been working on an accelerated schedule to complete the construction documents by July of 2010.

The project site has been renamed the Race Street Pier in order to emphasize the location of the park and its connection to the city. The project ambition is to create a strong, distinct and valuable public space that reconnects the City to the River and provides a riverfront amenity for residents and tourists.

In November 2009, during a public meeting at Festival Pier, the design team from James Corner Field Operations presented three different design concepts. With input from this public session, as well as from the DRWC Planning Committee, one design concept, “The Slice,” was selected.

The physical design of the pier is split into two levels – an upper level with a grand sky promenade and a lower level for gathering and passive recreation.  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 multi-purpose lawn and generous seating terrace with spectacular river views.  The new trees will play a dramatic role in this exciting design.

Construction and bidding documents for the Race Street Pier will be released in early August.  DRWC will select a construction firm in early September, and it is anticipated that construction will begin shortly after. The project is scheduled for completion and a grand opening to the public in spring of 2011 and will serve as an early example of high-quality open space along the Central Delaware River Waterfront.

Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) is a nonprofit corporation created in January 2009, and  organized 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.

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