Waterfront Reborn: Using Public Infrastructure to Leverage and Frame Private Development

Mobile Workshop

How can partners thoughtfully and incrementally transform vacant, underutilized, and disconnected public spaces into people-centered destinations that encourage quality private development? Building on the vision of the Master Plan for the Central Delaware, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation made a modest yet strategic investment in a new park at the base of Race Street, kick-starting a process of both public and private investment in the infrastructure and development parcels surrounding it.

Using this example, this mobile workshop will focus on how community-led planning and strategic investment in public infrastructure (including parks, streetscapes, and trails) catalyzed nearby private development and built momentum for larger public and private investments throughout the Central Delaware Waterfront. Participants will visit Race Street Pier, the Race Street Connector, Delaware River Trail, and Cherry Street Pier to see how the initial investment has spurred development on the Delaware River waterfront that includes new cultural institutions, restaurants, and residential and commercial buildings.


  • Learn how planning and design for incremental yet impactful development in the public realm can spur private development
  • Learn how to incorporate the adaptive reuse of existing infrastructure into public realm enhancements
  • Learn how building flexibility into plans and designs allows public spaces to adapt as community needs and desires change

Tour Leaders

Christopher Dougherty

Planner and Project Manager, Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

Michael Connor

Director - Philadelphia Office, NV5