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Pier 68 redevelopment will be more nature experience than ‘park’

7/11/2014 | Real Estate Blog

Just a few years ago, visitors to South Philly — at least, visitors with a taste for Coleridge — must have thought, “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop for recreation.” South Philadelphia is bounded by the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers, but wandering the neighborhood you may never have noticed it. You may, however, have noticed that this primarily residential part of town had little access to public open space.

The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. is in the process of changing that. The organization and the city have been working to “green up” the Delaware waterfront for the past few years. Among the projects are segments of the Central Delaware trail, the Race Street Pier, the Spruce Street Harbor Park and, most recently, Pier 68. It’s a slow process, but beauty takes time.

Pier 68 is in the very early planning stage; DRWC just unveiled the plans a couple of weeks ago. By this time next year, though, the city will have a new park that will offer visitors a unique experience.

The park celebrates the area’s natural resources. With open spaces bordered by native trees and an aquatic cut into the pier that will reveal the aquaculture of the river, the park will offer visitors opportunities to rest, to learn and to engage in typical waterfront activities like fishing. The park will also host community events, including fireworks displays.

DRWC and the city have an ulterior motive for this overhaul. The added green space will likely draw the interest of developers. And it just so happens that there are properties nearby that are ripe for development. If you build the park, the businesses will come.

Philadelphia is just one of many cities that have had to adapt to post-industrial trends. The Delaware River is like many other rivers that were once lined with factories and crowded with barges and cargo ships. The challenge for policymakers is to make these areas attractive to businesses that take up less space and are more oriented to the people who work there and the people who use their products or services. Green spaces in a big city may cost money — $1.7 million for Pier 68 alone — but they should attract new investment.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Delaware River waterfront set for $1.7M transformation at Pier 68,” Jared Shelly, June 26, 2014