Work on Columbia Avenue sculptures gets go-ahead, other waterfront projects progress

Light-bearing bronze sculptures of turtles, and a lit-up fiberglass turkey and wolf, are on their way to Columbia Avenue, as part of an effort to better connect the waterfront to Fishtown.

The board of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation – the organization that oversaw development of the city's long-term plan for the Central Delaware and is shepherding its implementation – Friday approved a $290,000 contract with artist Donald Lipski. The renderings of Lipski's art, which were inspired by clan symbols of the Lenni Lenape tribe, were recently approved by the city art commission, clearing the way for this contract for fabrication and instillation.

The artwork and coordinated landscaping, streetscaping, lighting and other elements will work together to create the Columbia Avenue Connector project. Columbia is one of a group of streets the city has identified as key links between city neighborhoods and the Delaware River. Landscape design was done by Studio Bryan Hanes, and the entire project is a joint effort between DRWC, the New Kensington Community Development Corporation and PennDOT. NKCDC assisted with community outreach on the designs. PennDOT is making highway improvements in the area, and will cover the cost of some underpass lighting and design elements as part of that project.

The $290,000 art contract is mostly funded by a grant from the William Penn Foundation, but also a newly announced Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for $60,000.

“DRWC’s mission in implementing the Central Delaware Master Plan is based on creating strong connections between riverfront neighborhoods and the Delaware waterfront, and we expect the new landscaping and public art at Columbia Avenue to draw residents and visitors to the waterfront as a key link between Fishtown and Penn Treaty Park,” said Thomas Corcoran, President of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation. “We’re proud of the innovative partnership that enabled us to fully leverage existing public investments by taking advantage of PennDOT’s ongoing infrastructure improvements while adding significant value to the waterfront with great public art”.

Read more about Lipski's artwork and the project here.

    • Columbia Connector turtles by Donald Lipski
      Columbia Connector turtles by Donald Lipski

In other Central Delaware project news:

DRWC Vice President Joe Forkin reports that FringeArts' work to convert a former pumping station into its HQ is right on schedule. Workers were onsite Friday, and they had taken out the bricks and relatively small windows that filled the huge, arching spaces of the original windows. These will be filled with windows of the original size. DRWC heralds the arrival of FringeArts as an early example of private development attracted to an improving waterfront. See earlier coverage here.

    • Progress on Philly Fringe building
      Progress on Philly Fringe building
    • Work at Philly Fringe building
      Work at Philly Fringe building

Water taxis are coming to the Central Delaware. Under pressure from the Federal Transit Administration to use $970,000 in grant money that was awarded several years ago, DRWC today published an RFP seeking someone to build four Shorelink Shuttle Terminal sites (aka, water taxi docks, wharves and related infrastructure), along the waterfront. The winning bidder has to meet ADA requirements, FTA requirements, and the DRWC's women and minority hiring requirements.

The marina at the Penn's Landing Basin, next to the Hyatt, will be the taxi's home port. The other three stops: Next to the current ferry landing dock at Walnut Street; adjacent to Dave & Buster's at Pier 19 and Festival Pier.

Forkin said the DRWC already has the actual vessels, which can be rented out for private use. The grants require the docks be built by fall of this year. Taxi service won't begin until next spring.

A mandatory pre-proposal meeting will be held on Monday, May 6 at 2:00 pm at the DRWC offices at 121 N. Columbus Blvd. The DRWC will accept all questions in writing until 5:00 p.m. on May 10, 2013. The DRWC will post a written response to all questions on its web site by May 14, 2013. See the RFP here.

Board members also got updates on Pier 53 Park at Washington Avenue Green (see related story here) and Penn Street Trail progress (Read about it at Eyes On The Street here).

    • DRWC Water Taxi Locations
      DRWC Water Taxi Locations

About the author

Kellie Patrick Gates, Waterfront, casinos, planning reporter

Kellie Patrick Gates writes about planning, neighborhood development and the Central Delaware Waterfront. A journalist for more than two decades, she  worked for daily newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and South Florida before coming to Philadelphia in 2003 to write for the Inquirer. Her work has appeared on PlanPhilly since 2007, and she also writes Love, the Inquirer's weekly wedding column. A native of Elk County, Pa., Kellie lives with her husband, Gary, and their dog and two cats.

Follow her on Twitter @KelliePGates

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