By Matt Rivers
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new feasibility study released Friday by the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation claimed a re-design and expansion of Penn’s Landing would generate over $1.3 billion in economic growth in Philadelphia, at the cost of $250 million in investment.
The new plan calls for expanding the park over top of Columbus Boulevard and I-95, covering both roadways in the stretch between Chestnut and Walnut Streets. The park currently stops at Columbus Avenue.
The DRWC said the plan would spark private investment in the area, with hotels, apartments, and retail stores moving in to take advantage of the space.
The waterfront has long faced issues related to its disconnect from the rest of the city. I-95 serves as an unofficial barrier between the river and Old City and officials said the new design would connect the two sides in a way never done before.
They hope to drum up public interest in the idea this summer by opening a ‘pop-up’ park at Columbus and Spruce streets, along the waterfront just a few blocks south of Penn’s Landing.
The DRWC will build the Spruce Street Harbor Pop-Up Park using grant money. It will take up the area a few blocks south of Penn’s landing for two months and feature everything from floating restaurants on barges, to dozens of hammocks in these trees, to a boardwalk that’s already being built.
“The goal is to help people enjoy and reconnect Philadelphia with its waterfront,” said Jodie Milkman, of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.
The DRWC hopes the park will help inspire public interest for the expansion of Penn’s landing across I-95, connecting it to Old City.
“The more people we can get down here and we can introduce to the plan, the more people get excited about it and want to champion it,” said Milkman.
This story had been told before, however. There are decades worth of failed plans on how to connect the waterfront to the city. So what makes this one any different?
“It’s ambitious yet grounded in reality,” said Milkman. “We really feel the return on investment is extremely high. This idea has been thoroughly vetted.”
Milkman said the corporation will likely have a better idea in the next six months if the funding prospects, and the political will, are sufficient enough to make the project a reality.