Finally, the final design phase is beginning for Park at Penn’s Landing

Funding is in place, preliminary engineering is done, and a survey asking about current and future waterfront uses is linked on the park’s website.

A rendering of the proposed Park at Penn's Landing.

A rendering of the proposed Park at Penn's Landing. (DRWC)

It’s really happening, that much-talked-about park and public space that will connect the city to its Delaware River waterfront from Chestnut Street to Walnut Street and over Interstate 95, complete with gardens, play areas, an amphitheater, a cafe, and a skating rink.

What the cafe area will look like at the Park at Penn’s Landing once the project is complete. (Courtesy of DRWC)

After years of planning, the city of Philadelphia, PennDOT, and the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. (DRWC) have announced that with funding in place and the preliminary engineering finished, the project is moving to its final design phase.

Construction of the $225 million project will begin in 2021 and will include extension of the South Street Pedestrian Bridge, reconstruction and expansion of a bridge over I-95, and a portion of the Delaware River Trail. The new park will open in 2024.

“The new Park at Penn’s Landing will completely change how residents and visitors experience the waterfront,” said Joe Forkin, president of the DRWC. “We’ve always believed that the input from the people who live in Philadelphia — who have a deep understanding of and love for the river, the parks, and the programming and events — is key to making this new park a success.”

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A garden is a part of the new design for Park at Penn’s Landing. (Courtesy of DRWC)

A public meeting and open house last week saw a potential design unveiled and launched an effort to get residents from all the city’s neighborhoods to contribute ideas and thoughts on how the 12-acre park should look and feel. The engagement process, which will begin next year and inform the final design of the park, will include public meetings, focus groups, and online initiatives.

A three-question survey asking about current and future uses of the park and the waterfront is already linked on the park’s website. People wanting to participate in focus groups on different topics — accessibility, food, play, “freedom in public space,” music and events, and “cultural entrepreneurship” — can also do it through the website.

PennPraxis will lead the engagement plan and work with the neighborhood and community organizations Little Giant Creative, Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC), Make the World Better Foundation, and the Village of Arts & Humanities.

There’s an area for visitors to ice-skate being proposed as part of the design for the Park at Penn’s Landing (Courtesy of DRWC)

Funding for the project comes from PennDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the William Penn Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The city has committed $90 million to the project.

The Park at Penn’s Landing was first envisioned in 2007 and brought back in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware adopted in 2012. An initial design was released in 2014.

Editor’s note: PlanPhilly was created out of the 2006-2007 civic visioning process led by PennPraxis. PlanPhilly joined WHYY in 2015.

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