Image: The Durst Organization unveils Details of Critical Delaware Waterfront Development

The Durst Organization today unveiled detailed plans of their development of a large parking lot north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge into a mixed-use residential project that will continue the transformation of the Delaware River waterfront into an attractive destination for neighbors and the broader region.

The 26-story project, located between Vine and Callowhill streets on the west side of Columbus Boulevard, will provide a new park for the community, improved connections to the historic Wood Street steps and Delaware River trail and long-term preservation of a key archeological site. The project also includes 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail to activate the Columbus Boulevard corridor and foster a lively street life.

The development, which will be constructed on a 1.6-acre parcel The Durst Organization purchased from the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation in 2019, is a critical component of the DRWC’s Master Plan for the Central Delaware and the continued revitalization of the waterfront.

“We are excited to partner with the DRWC on a world-class project to help revitalize the Delaware River waterfront,” said Jonathan (Jody) Durst, President of The Durst Organization. “This development captures the spirit of the Master Plan by bringing both more people and retail opportunities to the waterfront, enlivening the neighborhood street life and providing important new amenities, including green space.”

The 26-story project, designed by Handel Architects, will include 360 apartments and will be oriented to provide stunning views of both Center City and the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Continuing The Durst Organization’s long-term commitment to sustainability, it will be built to the highest environmental standards and will seek a LEED platinum designation.  Seven of the project’s 116 parking spaces will allow electric vehicle charging. The project is also being built to withstand increasing flooding and severe storms caused by climate change.

As part of the project, The Durst Organization is also planning to provide a number of public amenities.

The project makes a more than $2.5 million contribution to the Philadelphia Housing Trust Fund to fund the construction and preservation of affordable housing opportunities across the city. The Durst Organization is also planning a public art display on the site and to connect the site to the Delaware River trail, improving pedestrian access along a critical waterfront corridor.

The Durst Organization unveils Details of Critical Delaware Waterfront Development

More than a third of the parcel will be set aside as open green space, which will include gardens to capture rainwater runoff, as well as a playground for children. The park, designed by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, will achieve a pivotal objective of the Master Plan and preserve the most historically significant portions of the West Shipyard.

The remains of the shipyard, buried beneath the surface parking lot currently located on the site, represent some of the most complete archaeological resources documenting shipbuilding and waterfront activities in the city from the late 17th century through the middle of the 19th century. 

The Durst Organization designed the project to limit impact on the shipyard, which is on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places, and is working with the archeological team from the firm AECOM to advance research in the site. The Durst Organization conducted a series of public events to highlight finds of an initial series of excavations that attracted hundreds of residents from across the region. Assuming the COVID-19 pandemic permits, it is planning on additional public events during the archaeological excavation of the site.

The project is also oriented to improve access to the historic Wood Street steps and allow views to the water from the steps. Located between Water and Front streets directly west of the development parcel, the steps are among the oldest relics of Philadelphia’s colonial past. Their construction was mandated by William Penn to ensure public access to the waterfront.

The project was submitted for Civic Design Review, a process designed to solicit neighborhood feedback on the proposal, today. It is being constructed by right and will not require any zoning variances.

As part of the Civic Design Review process, The Durst Organization is presenting this proposal to a meeting of the Central Delaware Advocacy Group, which will provide its feedback on the project. After that meeting, The Durst Organization will present its plans to the Civic Design Review Committee, which consists of design professionals.

This project represents the first Philadelphia new development proposed by The Durst Organization, a world leader in the development of high-performance and environmentally advanced commercial and residential buildings. Its iconic portfolio of buildings includes One Five One West 42nd Street in New York City’s Times Square, One Bryant Park and One World Trade Center, which it developed through a unique partnership with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Durst Organization entered the Philadelphia market in 2017, when it purchased a series of four piers just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Last year, it was selected to partner with DRWC on the redevelopment of two key sites at Penn’s Landing — a signature development that promises to transform the waterfront.

“We look forward to receiving feedback from our neighbors and partners on this exciting new project for the riverfront,” Durst said. “Our goal is to build on the prior investments on the waterfront, from the Race Street Pier to Spruce Street Harbor Park, to deliver a series of projects that continue the revitalization of the Delaware River waterfront and make it a true destination for both area residents and the broader region. We look forward to working with DRWC, Mayor Kenney’s administration, Councilman Mark Squilla, Senator Nikil Saval, Representative Mary Isaacson and the community on realizing a shared vision for the Delaware waterfront.”

About The Durst Organization

The Durst Organization, founded in 1915 by Joseph Durst, is the owner, manager and builder of 13 million square feet of premiere Manhattan office towers and 2,500 residential rental units, with 3,500 in development. The Durst Organization is recognized as a world leader in the development of high-performance and environmentally advanced commercial and residential buildings where people live, work and thrive. www.durst.org

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