Bensalem Council Gives Green Light to Massive Waterfront Plans

The 675-acre "River Renaissance at New Bensalem" project would be the first of its kind in Bucks County.

Here's the long term vision for Bensalem's Riverfront Renaissance

Here’s the long term vision for Bensalem’s Riverfront Renaissance

Thanks in large part to the unanimous approval of eight ordinances by Bensalem Township Council and Bensalem Mayor Joe DiGirolomo last week, a massive 675-acre swath of prime real estate along the Delaware River in Bucks County could look a whole lot different in 15 to 20 years.

The new approvals now clears the way for what’s being called “River Renaissance at New Bensalem,” a redevelopment of what is primarily underutilized industrial property into a more mixed-use, walkable environment that offers access to the river and improvements to nearby SEPTA’s Cornwells Heights and Eddington stations. The vision has been upwards of 20 years in the making, and calls for the creation of a higher density “town center” areas and mixes a range of employment and recreational opportunities.

The project could spur up to “300 high-end one and two bedroom mid-rise apartments” constructed within close proximity to Cornwells Heights station in a transit oriented development situation. “We’re hoping to see some significant change along the State Road corridor,” explained Matt Takita, director of building and planning with Bensalem Township. “You’ll see properties redeveloping [around 5 years from now]. You’ll start to get a feel for what the street will look like in the future.”

Any development that comes in is expected to embrace the existing and future grid. “There will be no cul-de-sacs,” said Takita. “They’ll extend their streets out in anticipation in connecting to the grid.”

The vast amount of land provides a flexibility of uses throughout the site. On one hand, there’s a highly walkable/bikeable community with parks, pedestrian trails and overpasses, and waterfront entertainment. On the other, planners envision the site as a hub for advanced manufacturing and high-tech facilities.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Takita. “It’s a tremendous step forward for the township. This has been the mayor’s dream for decades. Everything is in place and the table has been set. Now we have to see who comes to dinner.”

The newly enacted ordinances, including an overlay ordinance that allows for the range os uses on the site, pave the way for this possibility, and CBS Philly reports the next step in the process it to get budgetary approval to hire a Director of Economic Development to market the site.