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Jodie Milkman: “We Want to Reconnect Philadelphia With Its Waterfront.”

June 26, 2014

SpruceStreetHarborThe Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is the non-profit organization that manages Penn’s Landing and other publicly owned land on the river on behalf of the city and state. This summer, they have a lot of concerts, events and attractions planned, as they’re trying to get people to appreciate the underutilized space. Our G.W. Miller III spoke with Jodie Milkman, DRWC’s vice president for marketing, programming and corporate sponsorships, about the reasons behind their busy schedule.

This summer’s programming seems more ambitious than in recent years.

We’re really excited about the idea of the Spruce Street Harbor Park (in the artist’s rendering above). The idea is to create a park that many people can use in may different ways (it opens tomorrow). We’re going to hang hammocks from the trees so that people can come down and lounge in the garden. We’re building a boardwalk, literally, between Spruce Street and Dock Street on the waterfront. There will be funnel cake and midway type games, bocce courts and other things to activate the park.

JodieMilkmanOnlineWhere did the funding come from?

It was funded originally by a grant we received from Art Place America, which provides funding to create great new civic spaces. We put in for a million dollars and we got around $300,000. We’ve had to fund the difference out of DWRC operating and capital. But this type of programming is very consistent with our Master Plan for the Central Delaware, which calls for a great civic space every half-mile along the central Delaware waterfront.

One of the challenges of the waterfront is that people say it feels disconnected from the city. We are trying very hard to improve pedestrian and vehicular connections between the city and the waterfront wherever possible. The marina here is one of the greatest assets that we have on the central Delaware River waterfront. Here, you can get in the water, you can feel the water, you can connect with the water.

You’re allowed to get in the water?

Well, you wouldn’t go swimming but you can kayak or ride a swan boat in it.

It sounds like you’re more interested in drawing in locals rather than tourists.

We want to reconnect Philadelphia with its waterfront. The more people that will enjoy assets like this will want to live, work and play in the city, which is ultimately the goal. We want to make the area more appetizing for when the economy bounces back and the development returns.

You want to show that there is feasibility to developing on the waterfront?

This demonstrates the potential of people finding the area and the value of this area.

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