New renderings, timeline released for Park at Penn's Landing

Wednesday, September 6, 2023
New renderings, timeline released for Park at Penn's Landing
New renderings, timeline released for Park at Penn's Landing

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Local leaders are calling this a "once-in-a-generation project" in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney were among those present for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the Park at Penn's Landing on Wednesday.

The project will connect Old City to the Delaware River Waterfront at Penn's Landing with space for recreation, activities, food, entertainment, and more.

"It is extraordinary to be standing here today on the forefront of a game-changing development that will transform the city of Philadelphia for the better for generations to come," said Joe Forkin, president of the Delaware River Waterfront Association.

After more than 10 years of planning, the ceremonial groundbreaking came with lots of praise from local and state leaders.

"They're going to finally reconnect the city to the Delaware River," said Shapiro. "They're going to create 11.5 acres of new park space and make it easier to walk from Old City right here to the waterfront."

The project will be built right over I-95 from Walnut St. to Chestnut St. It will include space for a pavilion, gardens, a skating rink and more.

The project will also extend the South Street Pedestrian Bridge over I-95 and right a wrong from decades ago when I-95 was built.

"The original construction of I-95 was traumatic for the city. Properties were demolished, families were displaced and the highway disconnected families from the waterfront," said Kenney, adding that the neighborhood he grew up in was among those destroyed by the I-95 construction. "For the decades since, we have been trying to figure out how to address this historic harm and reconnect Center City to Philadelphia to the Penn's Landing waterfront."

The city committed $90 million to the project and expects to reap the benefits.

"The city estimates a $1.6 billion return on investment in the next 25 years," said Kenney. "This is going to be great for business in Old City, Society Hill and Independence Park National Historic Park."

Crews have already closed the Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge so they can begin dismantling the current cover over I-95, preparing for bigger and better things to come.

"Not just because it is a big deal for Philadelphia, but I would maintain, this is a big deal for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania," said Shapiro.

Parts of the project will be done using the same team, and some of the same materials that were responsible for the quick reopening of I-95 after it collapsed. However, Governor Shapiro joked that they won't get this project done in the 12-day timeline it took to reopen I-95.

The park is expected to open in the spring of 2028.