Natural Lands Trust, in partnership with the Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC), has recently acquired a key parcel in the building of the Southern portion of the Delaware River Trail, which is part of the East Coast Greenway and the Circuit, and will provide a crucial bicycle network connection for the city and region. Using $832,500 in grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA), Natural Lands Trust purchased a 100-foot swath of land, one pier (Pier 56), and the associated water rights totaling 9.5 acres from K4 Philadelphia, LLC, on August 26, 2015.
This large waterfront site is located behind the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Headquarters at Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue. The sale follows the purchase of five acres of land and 11 acres of riparian lands at the end of Pier 70 Boulevard in 2012 by Natural Lands Trust. These two parcels serve as bookends for the proposed southern Delaware River Trail, a permanent .7-mile multi-use, recreational trail along the river. (Please see DRWC’s website for a full rendering of the Southern Delaware River Trail.)
“The acquisition of this major parcel of waterfront land is a very important step in the development of a high-quality, continuous waterfront trail that will run from Pier 70 Boulevard north to Washington Avenue Pier,” said Tom Corcoran, president of DRWC. “We are very grateful to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, especially to DCNR and CFA, for supporting this important element of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware. We are also very grateful to our partner, Natural Lands Trust, for their unique expertise in acquiring private lands for public use on both of these parcels.
“Connecting people with nature is an essential part of Natural Lands Trust’s conservation mission,” said Natural Lands Trust President Molly Morrison. “We’re delighted to continue working with DRWC to realize an exciting vision for recreation access along the Delaware River waterfront.”
Jeffrey Kozero, managing member of K4 Philadelphia, LLC, said “K4 Philadelphia is very pleased to have entered into this important agreement with Natural Lands Trust and DRWC, which will allow the public access to this beautiful river and to the trail that DRWC will be building.”
DRWC and Natural Lands Trust are now in the process of finalizing a similar agreement of sale with Tower Investments for the acquisition of 100 feet of land plus associated riparian lands from the parcel in the middle of the two completed acquisitions.
While completing this last acquisition, DRWC is working to assemble all of the funding needed to bid out and award contracts for the construction of the full southern portion of the Delaware River Trail. Like the Penn Street Trail, at the intersection of Spring Garden Street and Delaware Avenue, which was built as a demonstration project in 2013, the southern portion of the trail will feature separated bi-directional bike and pedestrian trails, storm water management, solar lighting, and beautifully designed benches and scenic lookouts. The trail will also connect two very different new parks designed and built by DRWC. Washington Avenue Pier is an ecological park opened summer 2014 at the location of Philadelphia’s old Immigration Station. The soon-to-be opened Pier 68—also acquired with assistance from Natural Lands Trust in the 2012—is being built at the base of Pier 70 Boulevard and, when finished, will be a location for fishing and recreation.
“DCNR is proud to partner in this effort to create a network of publicly accessible waterfront parks linked by a continuous trail,” said Cindy Adams Dunn, secretary of DCNR. “With this critical acquisition, DRWC, Natural Lands Trust, and the City of Philadelphia are one step closer to transforming the Delaware waterfront into a world-class recreational amenity for all Philadelphians to enjoy.”
Natural Lands Trust is the region’s largest land conservation organization and is dedicated to protecting the forests, fields, streams, and wetlands that are essential to the sustainability of life in eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Since its founding in 1953, Natural Lands Trust has preserved more than 100,000 acres, including 42 nature preserves totaling nearly 22,000 acres. Today, millions of people enjoy the healthy habitats, clean air and water, bountiful recreational opportunities, and scenic beauty provided by the lands the organization has preserved. For more information, visit www.natlands.org.
DRWC is a 501(c)(3) created in January 2009, exclusively for the benefit of the City of Philadelphia and its citizens. The fundamental purpose of DRWC is to design, develop, program and maintain public amenities such as permanent and seasonal parks, trails, and streetscape improvements to transform the waterfront into a vibrant destination for recreational, cultural, and commercial activities for the residents and visitors of Philadelphia as is consistent with the goals of the Master Plan for Central Delaware. Daily programming throughout the entire year is changing the way Philadelphians see and converse about the waterfront, and is helping to create spaces and communities that connect residents and visitors to the waterfront