By Kellie Patrick Gates
Field Operations bested three other finalists for the Pier 11 redo in what DRWC Director and Penn School of Design Dean Marilyn Jordan Taylor described as a tough decision for her committee. The other finalists were Andropogon, Michael van Valkenburgh Associates and W Architects.
"In our discussions, one team emerged as providing the best fit with the project scope and opportunity," Taylor said. "Deciding factors included the quality of the approach and also the match of that approach with the defined construction budget as well as the schedule expectations for the project's completion."
Director and Acting Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Alan Greenberger said this was especially important since this is the DRWC's first project. "We must succeed. We must do a good job with this," said Greenberger, who is also the executive director of the Planning Commission.
The property is an 80-foot by 540-foot abandoned finger pier that sits at the foot of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. It's resurrection has been projected to cost between $3 million and $3.5 million, paid for with a mix of public money and a grant from the William Penn Foundation.
Speaking of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, the DRWC received proposals from 23 teams who want to create it, Taylor said. Just like with the Pier 11 RFP process, a team of city staffers will winnow the group down to a short list, Taylor said, but the Planning Committee “wants to look at all of them.” The hope is to select the winner this fall, she said.
The Board of Directors also approved the DRWC's fiscal year 2010 operating budget, which includes $7.1 million in expenses – and, including depreciation, almost an $880,000 deficit. (Without including depreciation, the deficit is $279,849)
Director Jay Goldstein, the founder and president of Valley Green Bank, gave the financial report. Goldstein noted that on the revenue side, the appropriation from the City is dropping to half of what it had been, from $500,000 to $250,000, and is expected to drop even further in coming years. The DRWC's two largest sources of income are parking revenues ($2.4 million projected for FY 2010) and tenant rents ($1.3 million projected).
Expenditure wise, insurance costs jumped from $518,000 budgeted for FY '09 to $530,000 projected actual expense. And the budget just approved calls for $605,000. The added expense is the result of the waterfront bike trail, Goldstein said.
DRWC had budgeted a total of $3,339,447 in salaries, wages and benefits for FY '09, but cuts were made, and the anticipated actual expenditure is now $3,126,723, with $2,960,962 budgeted for FY '10. Asked what was cut, Goldstein said senior management took voluntary paycuts and the DRWC is no longer making matching payments for 401K contributions.
“Reserves are available,” Goldstein said when asked how the shortfall would be covered. “But on a going-forward basis, we need to make sure we do not have deficits.”
Director Avi Eden questioned why the board was not presented with a joint operating and capital budget. Goldstein said the capital budget was being audited, but told Eden it would also be brought to the full board for review at the next meeting. A determination has to be made as to whether the board will also vote on the operating budget to, Goldstein said.
During the public comment period, Ruben praised Eden for asking that the operating budget also be discussed. He said a more open process would be in keeping with the promises Mayor Michael Nutter made when he created the DRWC after imploding its often criticized predecessor, the Penn's Landing Corporation. Ruben also praised the board for keeping things open so far.
On the horizon: The Philadelphia Riverboat Company has been talking to the real estate and programs committees about starting a dinner river cruise concession. At a meeting on July 13, the Riverboat Company told committee members it would like to offer cruises on a 1,250 passenger vessel. The Sprit of Philadelphia boat, by comparison, holds more than 400 people. The cruises would last about three hours, traveling from the Ben Franklin Bridge to the Walt Whitman. The committees hope to work out an agreement that they will bring to the full board for approval. The company would like to start in April 2011.
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