CHESTER >> The West End waterfront master plan has entered a period of winter hibernation from public view as architectural firm NBBJ takes the insights gleaned in its fall and puts them into the testing phase. The Boston-based firm held a series of individual meetings, closed-door focus groups and two public focus groups during November.
NBBJ returned to city hall Dec. 12 for a final public meeting. “We had a good turnout. Probably around 70 people came, so that was encouraging,” NBBJ Urban Design Director Kathryn Firth said following the meeting.
The Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County, city government and Philadelphia Union parent company Keystone Sports and Entertainment LLC announced in October that NBBJ received the contract to design a redevelopment plan for the area surrounding Talen Energy Stadium and the Wharf at Rivertown office complex. The area is bounded by Norris Street and Highland Avenue and the Delaware River and West Second Street (Route 291), with consideration of public transportation and highway access surrounding it.
“We’ve got to put our noses down a bit and start testing things. As the economic development consultants (Chicago-based Hunden Strategic Advisors) start to generate some thoughts about what the viable uses will be and we take our input from the community, we need to start testing what will fit on the sight and what activities can be adjacent to each other,” said Firth. “There’s an exercise in making a neighborhood that’s connected to the wider Chester area and obviously connected to the waterfront.”
Firth estimated the firm will take “a couple of months” to work on the plan without public updates before returning for presentations in early spring. “We’ll be asking for people to react to what we come back with ... we’ve received many thoughtful responses to the existing conditions and what people would like to see. It’s our job to come back with some proposals to give people something to respond to,” she said.
Firth said the firm and its collaborators are still on track for the original completion time in June.