Race is on to finish Race Street Pier

It’s crunch time for Race Street Pier, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation Vice President Joe Forkin told the DRWC executive committee Thursday morning.

Project updates and future events

The contractor “is working seven days a week” to get the park open in time for next month’s public opening, and a pre-opening fundraising party that aims to raise about $60,000 for waterfront activities.

“The sky promenade is complete,” he said, referencing the section of the pier park that will tower above the water. 

There’s also been progress on the Race Street connector project, which will link the pier park to Old City, Forkin said. DRWC received arts commission approval for the LED screens that will go on the I-95 underpass.  The connector is set for completion by the end of June, he said.

As the meeting was taking place, workers were repairing the roof on the building between the DRWC offices and Race Street Pier – Pier 9.  DRWC is also looking to have the exterior of the building painted.

DRWC President Tom Corcoran said he’s received a letter from Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe saying that they’d like to use Pier 9 for Feastival – an event at the end of their two-week festival featuring restaurants from around the city. “They want to take over Pier 9 that night and decorate it,” he said. It would be the launch of Pier 9 as an exhibition space, Corcoran said.

Deputy Mayor and DRWC Board Member Alan Greenberger said it may take longer for this to happen, but Pier 9 might eventually be an ideal place for a furniture show and antique show and similar events that are now using the cruise ship terminal at the Navy Yard – space that is going to be used up by an Urban Outfitters expansion.  He said he’s suggested that organizers talk to DRWC.

DRWC Board Chairman Donn Scott asked when the feasibility study the board wants to examine future uses for Pier 9 would start, and Corcoran said it would be discussed at the next meeting of the planning committee.

Planning Committee Chairwoman Marilyn Jordan Taylor said the kind of events the group was talking about for Pier 9 could really kick-start the waterfront. “I think it’s the beginning, in almost every city, of waterfront revitalization,” she said. “I think it’s really exciting.”

DRWC also approved spending an additional $310,000 on the Central Delaware Master Plan, bringing the total to about $1.5 million. Master Plan Manager Sarah Thorp said the consultant had been asked for additional items, such as more planning work on the public realm areas and further economic analysis. Taylor said that part of the extra money was always anticipated, because there were items where the cost wasn’t known when the original contract was agreed to. Taylor and Thorp assured Scott that this was the final increase. “They are nearly done,” Taylor said of the work being lead by Cooper Robertson & Partners.

More money approved for master plan

DRWC considered awarding a contract for landscape improvements at Penns Landing’s Great Plaza, but is holding off until the board’s ethics committee has a chance to review the situation.

While several contractors came to the RFP meeting about the $350,000 project, Forkin said that all withdrew except one: Mayfield Site Contractors of King of Prussia.  Mayfield has worked since the 1970s with landscape architect Synterra Ltd and plans to do so on this project as well. DRWC Board Member William Wilson is principal-in-charge of the firm.
Ethics Committee Chair Ellen Yin said that Wilson wouldn’t be directly involved in the project. The conflict of interest form was filled out, and has been reviewed with the city law department, she said. “Board members are permitted to have a relationship with DRWC as long as they are disclosed,” she said.

Great Plaza contract won’t be voted on until ethics review

Yin was going to review the situation with her committee, and then report back to the executive committee, which would convene a special meeting to vote on the contract, provided the committee had no issues with it.

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