On September 15, 2020 in Pennsylvania, the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County (RADC) announced the official launch of the new Chester Waterfront Master Plan.
It’s described as a framework to direct the redevelopment of the waterfront, promote better connections to the local community and establish Chester as a regional destination to stay and live for residents, businesses and visitors.
RADC is a consortium of private sector corporations and non-profit institutions that have come together to develop and implement programs and activities that serve as the catalyst for the physical, economic, and social development of the Delaware County waterfront.
The Master Plan will be implemented in several phases, with a comprehensive strategy that focuses on the following themes:
- Connectivity: Improving community access and safety to and around Chester along the East Coast Greenway and Pennsylvania Route 291, through improvements on public transit, cycling and pedestrian infrastructure;
- Waterfront activation: Enhancing existing assets of the Barry Bridge Park and Riverwalk trail and developing new public spaces along the waterfront for retail, boating and recreation;
- Environment sustainability: Mitigating the impacts of climate change and sea level rise through stormwater management and the development of natural landscapes, shading devices and increased plantings on streets and walkways;
- Successful development: Leveraging extensive market analysis and continued investment from both local and outside stakeholders to prioritize attainable activations that can be achieved throughout all phases; and
- Chester’s image: Reinvigorating public perception of the city by highlighting and amplifying its rich history, creative opportunity and civic spirit.
Initial priority projects include improvements to PA Route 291, Reaney and Engle Streets, design of a riverfront park and a public art program. Based upon these investments in public spaces, the Plan seeks to attract private sector support in activations like new office spaces, retail and hospitality venues, and improved sports and entertainment facilities, all strategically designed to complement and build upon existing Chester landmarks and establishments. In total, the plan will encompass nearly 100 acres of land, from Highland Avenue to Norris Street.
“Chester is a tight knit community full of character and heart. This plan outlines the strategy to safely connect the riverfront to the city and provide new opportunities for growth and development,” says RADC President Tom Shoemaker.
“It was critical to us to incorporate as much community feedback as possible into the development process, ensuring that this transformation incorporates the goals and aspirations of local residents for the future of the waterfront,” he added.
To develop the strategy, RADC and NBBJ held numerous planning sessions with community stakeholders and Chester residents to understand key neighborhood issues, opportunities for growth and how to improve upon revitalization challenges of past efforts. Market analysis included reviews of local demographics, physical conditions, current infrastructure, opportunity for tourism and existing resources.
NBBJ planning and urban designer Chris Herlich added, “Over the past year, I’ve met so many Chester residents and their pride in the city’s history is palpable. This is a community that is hungry to grow and become a true economic hub in Pennsylvania and beyond. It’s been incredibly rewarding to work on this project that will help them reclaim their place in the region.”
The Master Plan is funded through partnerships with private and public entities including the Department of Community and Economic Development, the Philadelphia Union, M&T Charitable Foundation, and more. Phase Two implementation will include upgrades in hospitality offerings, improvements to the Philadelphia Union facilities, development of a marina, and a multifamily residential offering along the waterfront.
Images courtesy of NBBJ.