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The seeds of creating a “river renaissance” along the Delaware Riverfront north of Center City picked up steam in the late 1990’s when then Congressman Bob Borski invited the region’s government and business leaders to take a boat cruise along the river and see the miles of vacant property, as well as the opportunities presented by the underutilized riverfront lands. For the last 50 years, the river has been a “back door” to the city.

Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC)
At the same time, the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) was learning from local residents their desire to regain access to the riverfront for recreation, fishing and enjoyment, after the construction of I-95, which effectively cut off most of the Northeast neighborhoods from the river.

Action was taking place in various riverfront neighborhoods — a Tacony Army Warehouse Coordinating Committee, including Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, State Senator Michael Stack and State Representative Michael McGeehan, was formed to look at the feasibility of transforming the Tacony Army Warehouse site at Princeton Avenue into a public park. Bridesburg residents and their local elected officials, Councilwoman Joan Krajewski, State Senator Michael Stack and State Representative John Taylor, along with Congressman Borski, succeeded in garnering federal support for an extension of Delaware Avenue that would redirect truck traffic away from Richmond Street and move trucks along the riverfront in part of the remaining active industrial area. PEC advanced studies of how to transform the abandoned Kensington & Tacony rail track into a riverfront bike and pedestrian trail.

A Long-Term Vision for Renewal and Redevelopment
With the support and urging of the local elected officials, the City and the Delaware River Port Authority funded the development of a new Vision Plan under the direction of Philadelphia’s City Planning Commission to address making the Delaware Riverfront become the “front door” to new mixed-use neighborhoods, ecological restoration and public recreational opportunities. The plan was to cover the nearly 3,500 acre North Delaware Riverfront — an 11-mile corridor from Penn Treaty Park to the Poquessing Creek. The City’s Plan — A Long-Term Vision for Renewal and Redevelopment — released in September 2001, cited compelling economic, environmental, programmatic and social gains to be made in redeveloping the North Delaware Riverfront that would “transform not only the area of the 11 mile Site and its immediate surroundings, but also the face and vitality of the entire City.”

The William Penn Foundation supported a companion study for PEC (by the same consultant team) on Renovating Post Industrial Landscapes that explored the use of sustainable environmental practices to remediate brownfields, manage stormwater and develop a key component of the plan — a continuous linear parkland corridor.

Public Greenway Corridor
The creation of a public greenway corridor along the river’s edge that includes trails, a river access road, space for civic events, active recreational facilities, boating facilities, restaurants and esplanades, with links from and to the river neighborhoods, is a central piece of the City’s Plan.
To further this “green infrastructure” aspect of the Plan, Bob Borski and PEC invited riverfront businesses, leaders of riverfront Community Development Corporations, City agencies and cabinet members, non-profit organizations, and elected officials to participate on the Northeast Riverfront Task Force.

North Delaware Riverfront Greenway Plan
The Task Force oversaw a North Delaware Riverfront Greenway Plan, with funding from the PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, that recommends further details of the boundaries and benefits of a riverfront greenway, plus its costs, phasing, financing and organization and maintenance. This Plan was completed in November, 2005 and officially endorsed by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission in September, 2006. A number of seed projects are already underway from Bridesburg to Torresdale that will implement aspects of the riverfront greenway and River Road and leverage and join with private investment in new mixed-use developments.

Delaware River City Corporation (DRCC)
It was during this process that Congressman Borski formed a non-profit organization, the Delaware River City Corporation (DRCC). The entity was recognized by the City of Philadelphia and charged to guide and facilitate the implementation process for the Greenway Plan, to bring it to its fullest and best fruition.

Through the work of the DRCC, we envision that over the course of the next decade, the City will be able to boast that:
-- hundreds of acres of contaminated and derelict ground were successfully remediated;
-- new and expanded habitat for native forest, floodplain and wetland communities were established;
-- linkages from the City’s neighborhoods to the river were created;
-- new residents were attracted to live in new riverfront communities;
-- and a recreational parkland corridor replete with new cultural amenities, institutions and facilities opened the river horizon to the City’s residents and visitors.


Arsenal Business Center, Building 1, 5301 Tacony Street, Box 215, Philadelphia, PA 19137
Tel: 215-537-8400 x 135/136 FAX: 215-744-5706 E-mail: [email protected]
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