Decades in the works, the redevelopment of Festival Pier began in earnest Wednesday with a groundbreaking, kicking off a new stage of growth for the central Philadelphia waterfront.
The project will convert the Delaware River spot most recently known for hosting concerts — including the early editions of the annual Roots Picnic — into a mixed-use development with residences, retail, and public space.
It will be known as Rivermark Northern Liberties, and there’s a target completion date of spring 2024.
The second-largest publicly owned parcel along the river, at 5.8 acres, 501 N. Columbus Blvd. is being redeveloped by Delaware County’s Haverford Properties and Virginia-based Jefferson Apartment Group. The partner pair were selected for the project back in 2015, and are leasing the Festival Pier site from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.
Like many piers along Philly’s riverfront, it was long used for industrial purposes. Before it hosted concerts, the east end of Spring Garden Street was home to a trash incinerator.
Its redevelopment is part of a master plan finalized in 2011 by landscape architecture firm Olin, which describes the blueprint as a “25-year roadmap to transform the post-industrial lands along the Delaware River into a vibrant urban waterfront.”
The DRWC is stewarding that roadmap, which has so far brought public amenities like Cherry Street Pier, Race Street Pier, and Spruce Street Harbor Park.
Also underway is construction of Penn’s Landing Park, which will cap I-95 between Chestnut and Walnut, connecting the city’s street grid to the river like before the interstate created a deadening barrier. A $2.2 billion mixed-use project is coming to the waterfront side of the park, led by the New York-based Durst Organization. (The Sixers originally suggested building a new arena there, before setting their sights on Center City.)
JAG and Haverford’s Festival Pier plans kicking off today call for 470 multi-family housing units across two five- and six-story buildings, 45,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space anchored by a Sprouts Farmers Market supermarket, and 4 acres of public space and pocket parks, which will connect to the Delaware River Trail.
There will also be a lot of public art: $1.1 million of it, as part of Philly’s Percent for Art program. There’s an open RFQ for any artists who want to put their name in the hat, which also gives a peek at what the finished project might look like.
Scroll down to see more renderings of what’s slated for Festival Pier.