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Delaware River Waterfront Corp. Seeks Developers For Parcels Surrounding Penn's Landing

A rendering of the proposed park connecting Penn's Landing with Old City, to be built on a cap placed above I-95 and Christopher Columbus Boulevard in Philadelphia

The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. is unofficially kicking off its plan to revitalize the heart of Philly's eastern shore.

On Oct. 31, the nonprofit charged with shepherding the development of the Delaware River released a request for proposals for two sites bordering the Penn's Landing riverfront park on the north and south sides, totaling 11 acres. DRWC retained JLL to assist with the RFP process.

The RFP's release coincided with the beginning of the final design phase for the 12-acre, $225M public park that will cover Interstate 95 and Christopher Columbus Boulevard between Walnut and Chestnut streets, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The project, meant to connect Penn's Landing and Old City for pedestrians, also has a construction timeline for the first time, with a predicted start in 2021 and completion in 2024.

The 7.4-acre lot just to the north of Penn's Landing stretches between Market and Chestnut streets, and will eventually overlook the new park. As part of its master plan for the waterfront, DRWC envisions high-rise multifamily and hotel buildings with ample ground-floor retail and entertainment uses for the lot.

The 3.4-acre southern parcel is bounded by Lombard Street to the south and Spruce Street Harbor Park, which sits within the Penn's Landing area, to the north. DRWC stated in its RFP that it sees low- to mid-rise multifamily development with two bottom floors for retail.

A portion of the concrete-heavy Philadelphia waterfront

Both lots are used for surface parking, with the northern one also the site of a seasonal ice and roller skating rink and the vestige of what was once to be a sky tram to Camden, the Inquirer reports. The southern lot also contains a building used to house maintenance equipment for the parks, and whoever is awarded development rights is expected to demolish it, the RFP states.

Both waterfront sites are part of the Central Delaware Overlay zoning district, which allows for a maximum building height between 100 and 244 feet, depending on if a project meets certain community benefit requirements. The deadline for responses is Feb. 7.

DRWC, and by extension the city of Philadelphia, hopes that the I-95 capping project and these surrounding developments can give the Delaware riverfront the same vitality that the Schuylkill River to the west enjoys. Private developers already have projects in the planning phase farther to the north and south.