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Renderings unveiled for proposed waterfront park along Schuylkill River

Plans unveiled for proposed waterfront park along Schuylkill River
Plans unveiled for proposed waterfront park along Schuylkill River 02:00

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- There could soon be another place to lounge along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

The University City District wants to build a waterfront park along the Schuylkill next to 30th Street Station featuring a beach, a slide, a public pool and an entertainment venue.

They're calling the proposed structure the West Philly Waterfront, and this week UCD revealed renderings that show how the finished project could look. The waterfront would sit above the river between Chestnut and Market Streets along Schuylkill Avenue.

"West Philadelphia is a river-based community that doesn't have access to the river. And so we wanted to say, could we do anything to bring folks down to the river to enjoy it?" Nate Hommel, Director of Planning and Design of University City District said. "We always wanted to find some way to activate this waterfront and bring people to it."

"I like the Schuylkill the way it is," Drexel student Sophia said. "I feel like the construction will cause a lot of chaos around here and this is a good place for running and relaxing."

A rendering shows a proposed two-level waterfront park along the Schuylkill River outside Philadelphia's 30th Street Station. The University City District is seeking external funding for the $60 million project. AECOM/University City District

The district envisions activities being hosted at the pool including swimming classes, lifeguard trainings and swim meets, near lush natural landscaping and areas providing shade for both residents and visitors in the hottest months of the year.

"People that are actually at the park or pool, it will be a little noisy. So you're not really getting the beach sensation because it's gonna be like beeping and trucks," Drexel student Kayla said.

It's not set in stone, though. The district said it still needs to raise money from interested partners before the project can move forward. A spokesperson for UCD listed the price tag at $60 million.

"Once fundraising is complete, we anticipate a roughly 3-year process to conduct community engagement, make tweaks to the design, secure the needed permits and approvals, and complete construction. Right now, we're specifically focused on raising the funds for a robust community engagement process, which will be critical to the project's success," Director of Marketing and Communications Chris Richman wrote in an email.

A rendering shows how the proposed West Philly Waterfront park would be integrated with the streets and sidewalks near 30th Street Station. AECOM/University City District

The proposal was first revealed at the State of University City event on Thursday. 

In a quote from a news release, District President Matt Bergheiser drew parallels between the water park proposal and The Porch at 30th Street, another UCD project. That added swing set-style benches, tables for outdoor dining, food trucks and performances to the side of the station that faces Market Street.

"The time is right for a bold vision to further enhance our connection to the Schuylkill River," Bergheiser said. "Now is the time to think with great aspiration about a new iconic space to connect the waterfront to the dynamic growth of University City, and to make it accessible for all Philadelphians."

Richman said the park would help draw in tourists and residents alike and bring additional traffic to businesses in the area.

A diagram shows where the green spaces, beach, public pool and other amenities of the proposed West Philly Waterfront would be located. AECOM/University City District

"I think it's fabulous," Amy Lend said. "I spend a lot of time on this trail and anything that is going to make that view more beautiful is fantastic."

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