This story originally appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal
The Delaware River Waterfront Corp. has extended the Spruce Street Harbor Park’s season through Sept. 28, because of the overwhelming response it’s received during its eight-week run.
Originally set to close on Sept. 1, Mayor Michael Nutter personally asked the DRWC to keep the park open because he knew how popular the pop-up park was, Emma Fried-Cassorla, DRWC communications manager, told me. The park, however, will still be funded by the DRWC.
An estimated 35,000 people per week came out to visit the park, with almost double the numbers on the Fourth of July weekend.
“We thought the park would be popular, but had no idea just how popular it would be,” said Thomas Corcoran, president of the DRWC.
Now, since SSHP is getting an extension, the breakdown of the park will happen in conjunction with the building of Winterfest, which will open on Nov. 28, Fried-Cassorla said.
Making the waterfront a destination
Spruce Street Harbor Park was built using a grant from ArtPlace America, in order to transform the Penn’s Landing Marina into destination visitors go to.
“The purpose of the park in the short term was to do this place-making project,” Fried-Cassorla said. “We got this grant from ArtPlace America [to take] an underutilized space and revamp it so that it becomes an attraction.”
Fried-Cassorla also said the park is probably one of the most successful projects the DRWC has launched in terms of reinvigorating a waterfront space, introducing a new group of Philadelphians to the waterfront and creating a buzz about the future successes of the waterfront.
“It put Philadelphia in that younger, freer, outdoorsy, welcoming kind of map. It’s one more thing that doesn’t take away from our few hundred years of history, but shows us to be what we are — Philadelphia,” said Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia.
Levitz also said: “The way the park was designed was caring, and [the DRWC] thought about what people wanted in different times of day and different trip types. [It shows] Philadelphia is so progressive by embracing the waterfront and creating a public space.”
The park has received a number of accolades nationwide, from being named one of the world’s best urban beaches by the Huffington Post, to its Blue Anchor restaurant being included on a list of the world’s “ coolest restaurants” by Travel & Leisure.
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Part of a Master Plan
Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Waterfront Winterfest is only two parts of the $250-million Master Plan adopted in 2011 to redevelop Penn’s Landing, in order to connect the waterfront to the city.
The Master Plan lays out both public and private development along the banks of the Central Delaware River, with parks every half mile, connector street projects, a fully built-out bike trail and the complete redevelopment of Penn’s Landing.
The project is expected to attract up to 700 residential units, 50,000 square feet of retail space and 500 hotel rooms.
DRWC recently opened its newest permanent pier, Washington Avenue Pier, formerly Pier 53, located on Washington Avenue and Columbus Boulevard.
Photos via the Philadelphia Business Journal-30-
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