Massive redevelopment & riverfront parks coming if Philly builds above rail yards

The 30th Street Station District (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) team released a draft plan for overhauling the station and the surrounding area.

In its draft form, the plan calls for reopening the tunnel connecting 30th Street Station to SEPTA’s nearby subway and trolley station, building two new bridges over the Schuylkill River, opening a new intercity bus terminal, expanding public space surrounding the station, and launching new retail options inside.

Most ambitiously, the draft plan calls for covering the rail yards and Northeast Corridor lines next to 30th Street Station with a partial cap, allowing for the development of an expensive new neighborhood above.

PhillyPhiladelphia wouldn’t be the first city to cap an active rail yard. Chicago covered a yard to build Millennium Park, and New York City capped Hudson Yards. Washington, DC is a bit further along in developing Burnham Place, a planned cap over Union Station’s rail yards and Northeast Corridor tracks.

To put things into perspective in just how massive the 30th Street Station District’s draft plan is: Burnham Place would be 14 acres; Millennium Park is 24 acres; Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in New York City’s history, is 26 acres.

But the draft plan for 30th Street Station would cover somewhere between 50 and 70 of the 88 acres of rail infrastructure north of the station.


From 30th Street Station looking west

The master plan includes eight new towers rising on the site. Existing buildings will be renovated and repurposed, like the Bulletin Building that will see the addition of view ports on its east façade, a new front screen, and the creation of an elliptical lawn.

A network of public green space will weave the landscaping plan together with Drexel Square, a 1.3 acre park built on the parking lot of One Drexel Plaza at 30th and Market Street, the transformation of John F. Kennedy Boulevard into a pedestrian-minded greenway (dubbed the JFK Esplanade), and lining Market Street with three rows of trees and multiple designated bike lanes.

See PlanPhilly article & image credit.

See Hidden City article & image credit.

See June 17, 2016 update on this initiative.

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