Old City Residents Pick Their Priorities for 2026

Better parks and something under the Ben Franklin Bridge prove favorites among the goals set out in the Old City District's "Vision2026" community plan.
What Old City residents who attended last night's "Vision 2026" workshop said they most wanted to see was something like this under the Ben Franklin Bridge. Rendering | Atkin Olson Schlade via Old City District

What Old City residents who attended last night’s “Vision2026” workshop said they most wanted to see was something like this under the Ben Franklin Bridge. Rendering | Atkin Olson Schlade via Old City District

What neighborhood improvements should the Old City District invest its energies in first?

The OCD invited neighborhood residents to answer this question as it pertained to its “Vision2026 Framework 1.o” at a meeting at The Bourse March 30 where the 10-year plan for the neighborhood was presented.

The framework seeks to build on both Center City’s and Old City’s recent momentum and make the neighborhood even livelier and more pedestrian- and bike-friendly. Its goals include improving the neighborhood’s small parks, better integrating the Ben Franklin Bridge with the neighborhood and activating the space beneath it, improving the neighborhood’s walkability, managing the decline of parking in the neighborhood while accommodating delivery needs, adding a robust bicycle network to the transportation mix, and improving the frequency and quality of transit service and facilities.

The framework contains 35 specific recommendations for improving the public realm of Old City, grouped into seven broad categories. Of those recommendations and categories, three were the far and away top priorities for the attendees at the meeting:

  • Adding life to the space under the Ben Franklin Bridge.
  • Park space improvements in general.
  • Pedestrian-oriented lighting.

Not far behind these three was increasing the frequency of off-peak transit service on Market Street and considering light rail for the corridor.

The initial Vision2026 public survey demonstrated a strong interest in better public space, more residents/workers/visitors, neighborhood-serving retail (like a grocery), and a shift in transportation priorities to become more pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-oriented,” said Jonas Macunias, urban planner at the RBA Group, which developed the neighborhood plan for the OCD.

 “At the Vision2026 rollout event on Wednesday evening, we conducted an informal exercise where we asked those in attendance to take five gold stars and place them beside the recommendations they would prioritize. Again, we find that Old City stakeholders want to see better neighborhood public space and a transportation system that, while not marginalizing vehicular travel, prioritizes walking, bicycling, and public transit.”

[Updated March 31, 2015, 10:25 a.m.]


Sandy Smith Home and Real Estate Editor @MarketStEl
ssmith@phillymag.com