Natural Lands, the region’s oldest and largest land protection nonprofit, announced that it has transferred ownership of a 9.5-acre parcel along the Delaware River to Delaware River Waterfront Corp (DRWC). The land represents 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.

Photo by Delaware River Waterfront Corp

“This long-awaited transfer of property represents a real collaboration with partners like DRWC and funders,” said Natural Lands President Oliver Bass. “We are committed to connecting people with the outdoors, and this project embodies that mission. The property ensures greater access to the Delaware riverfront for both city residents and visitors, promotes activity and the associated health benefits, and adds new life to the waterfront area.”

The site is located behind the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 Headquarters at Columbus Boulevard and Washington Avenue, and consists of a 100-foot swath of land, one pier (Pier 56), and the associated water rights totaling 9.5 acres. The land was purchased by Natural Lands in August, 2015, and held until DRWC formed a separate non-profit land trust, DRWC Land Conservancy, as required by project funders.

The sale follows the 2012 purchase and 2018 transfer of 16 acres of riparian land at the end of Pier 70 Boulevard by Natural Lands to DRWC. These two parcels serve as bookends for the proposed south section of the Delaware River Trail, a permanent .7-mile multi-use, recreational trail along the river.

“The transfer of this property to DRWC Land Conservancy is a keystone piece in our ability to stitch together a large swath of waterfront property for conservation and public use, and to formally extend the Delaware River Trail, ensuring forever that the land is preserved and can be enjoyed by all Philadelphians and visitors,” said Joe Forkin, president of DRWC. “The pier and water area also afford us the opportunity to innovate and create a buffer for coastal resiliency as we plan for rising sea levels and future storms. DRWC cannot thank Natural Lands enough for their partnership, expertise, and creativity that has led to this amazing opportunity.”

Funds for the purchase of this property were provided by PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Commonwealth Financing Authority.

“DCNR is pleased to partner with Natural Lands and Delaware River Watershed Corporation to support the acquisition of this post-industrial property along the Delaware River that will be rehabilitated to provide a passive recreational opportunity for residents of Philadelphia to connect to the river and enjoy other recreational resources along the Delaware River Trail,” said DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “Projects of this nature are critical to our mission of expanding outdoor recreation opportunities for all Pennsylvanians, and we thank our partners for their work in this space.”