PlanPhilly

Final design phase begins for riverfront park in Bridesburg

Tucked away behind a parking lot filled with yellow school buses and a busy metal recycling facility along the Delaware River in Bridesburg, there is a rutted, weed-strewn 10-acre lot. It might not look like much today, but plans are underway to bring life to the unused space by making it the home to a new riverfront park and multi-use community space.

On Saturday, city officials joined neighbors at the site along the river, located near the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Orthodox Street, to announce the launch of a 15-month design process to determine just what the coming park could include.

“We are in design and we will have another 15 months to go, but we will get there,” promised Robert Borski, chairman of the Delaware River City Corporation, on Saturday.

As Borski strolled the lot — where thick weeds stood knee-high and thin trees, limbs bare for the season, erupted through long, deep cracks in the pavement – he explained how planners obtained the 10-acre property that will be used to create the new park through a complicated land swap.

As he detailed how Dietz & Watson worked with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) on the trade that secured land for the park while giving the company needed real estate for an expansion project following a 2013 fire, the trademark clang of scrap metal being processed at the nearby Kuusakoski Recycling plant filled the air.

But, Borski said, that noise could eventually be overshadowed by the sounds of live music and families enjoying nature thanks to the $800,000 – a $500,000 grant from the William Penn Foundation plus $300,000 in city capital funds secured for the project by City Councilman Bobby Henon – for drafting final designs for the space.

A conceptual 2015 master plan for the park shows prospective designs for a rain garden, picnic area, a boardwalk at the waterfront and a stage at the central lawn.

Those plans aren’t yet set in stone – there will be a series of community meetings, beginning in January, to discuss ideas and options – but the hope is that the park could look something similar to South Philly’s Penn’s Landing with a bandstand for performances and room for locals to access the river.

“The river was pretty much taken away from us,” said Borski, discussing how riverfront land in Port Richmond and Bridesburg has long been dominated by largely industrial use. “It’s our mission to take it back.”

In addressing the gathered crowd on Saturday, Henon said the he was proud of his office’s ability to secure needed fund for the park’s design phase.

“We’ve been separated from our river. But, we’re not going to be separated for much longer,” said the councilman.

The park will connect residents to the North Delaware Riverfront Greenway — a planned 11-mile section of trails and parks along the Delaware River through Northeast Philadelphia — through the existing Port Richmond Trail and the Delaware Avenue Extension to the south, and connecting to the existing K&T Trail to the north.

Construction costs for the park are expected to come in somewhere between five to seven million dollars, which planners are still working to secure.

The land development engineering and environmental consulting company Langan has been selected to lead the park design.

“It’s going to be truly extraordinary when it happens,” said Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department of the coming park. “You just can’t believe that this kind of space exists here and is untapped.”

While construction for the park won’t begin at least until early 2019, Borski said he has high hopes for the site and, after years of planning, he is excited to be able to begin the process to help the community work with the city to build a park that could be a real amenity for the City of Philadelphia.

“This is going to be a tremendous asset for the community of Bridesburg,” said Borski.

    • Park Concept - Illustrative Design Concept
      Park Concept - Illustrative Design Concept
    • Rendering of Park with stage, Betsy Ross Bridge in background
      Rendering of Park with stage, Betsy Ross Bridge in background
    • River View Terrace Rendering
      River View Terrace Rendering
    • Park Rendering
      Park Rendering
    • Rendering of event space
      Rendering of event space
  • Previous
  • Next

Dear reader, your support is essential for PlanPhilly’s independent, watchdog coverage. Please help us continue providing the local public interest news that you value in 2018 by making a tax-deductible donation during our once-a-year membership drive. Thank you for eleven great years of coverage on the built environment and counting!

About the author

Hayden Mitman, Contributor

Hayden Mitman is an award-winning freelance reporter with a passion for the City of Philadelphia. He has been reporting on - and around - the city since 2005 and has written for the Metro, Philly Weekly, PhillyVoice.com, The Intelligencer, the Bucks County Courier Times and others. He lives in Northeast Philly and his background is in covering breaking news and issues of criminal and social justice. He also enjoys doing research for investigative articles. Hayden is on Twitter at @haydenmitman and he can be contacted by email at hayden.mitman@gmail.com.



blog comments powered by Disqus

Article Information

Recent Comments on PlanPhilly

Powered by Disqus

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Which weekly emails would you like to receive?