DRWC Unveils Early Redevelopment Plans for Festival Pier Site

The board picked Jefferson Apartment Group and Haverford Properties to revive the former industrial site.

Festival Pier | via DRWC

Festival Pier | via DRWC

Welp, it’s official. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has chosen the partnership of Jefferson Apartment Group and Haverford Properties to transform the 11.5-acre Festival Pier site into a massive mixed-use complex chock-full of apartments, retail and public space, including clear sight lines and access to the mighty Delaware River.

The site, formerly a waterfront incinerator and impound parking lot, rests at the foot of Spring Garden Street and is currently being used as a Live Nation concert venue. Now, Jefferson and Haverford have hired Cecil Baker + Partners to design a 4- to 5-story building with approximately 550 apartments and 30,000-square-feet of retail to reinvigorate the waterfront.

The public will benefit from the new plan, as Spring Garden Street will now be extended through the site and create a green boulevard that stretches to the water’s edge. Renown landscape architecture Olin will handle the design of the new public space and the entire redevelopment plan will be executed in a single phase.

“This is going to be a waterfront success story,” said Alan Greenberger, deputy mayor for economic development, in a press release, “and a microcosm of what we intended in the [Master Plan for the Central Delaware]: taking a post-industrial brownfield and turning it into a dynamic new community with high-quality public space that is accessible, connected, and integrated into a well-designed, mixed-use development.”

The Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman first reported that Jefferson and Haverford would be the pick on Thursday, and the group said they were “thrilled” about having the chance to develop the site, which will build off the growth seen in Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Old City: “In addition to the site’s connectivity to the city, the fact that the site is surrounded by water on three sides and offers unmatched views of the Delaware River make this a prime opportunity to design and build a landmark project worthy of this unique location and worthy of the surrounding communities.”

The press release confirms that it’s early days for the project and that “community engagement will be solicited through a public input process, with a schedule for meetings expected to be announced this fall.”

The DRWC reiterated that the announcement only means they’ve chosen a developer at this point, and that specific details of the plans would be developed over time. Conceptual renderings are not available at this time and a long-term sub-lease agreement between DRWC and the developers is expected to be signed by the end of the year. The design will be “finalized soon after, once the public is afforded an opportunity to see and comment upon the proposed site plan.”

Before that happens, the former industrial pier must be prepped to handle the new development. According to DRWC, that includes sheet piling, importing clean fill, and compacting it to create a pad for development in line with the parcel’s current capacity for development as determined in a 2013 geotechnical study. Jefferson and Haverford will foot the bill for the work.

DRWC says the concert venue will continue to run through the summer of 2016: “Following 2016, DRWC and Live Nation plan to work together to identify an appropriate alternate concert venue.”