• View of the Lower Schuylkill from Bartram's Garden

  • Point Breeze Terminal, 63rd Street and Passyunk Avenue

  • Bartram's Garden, 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard

  • Penrose Plaza Shopping Center, Island Avenue and Lindbergh Boulevard

  • 53rd Street and Grays Avenue, looking northeast

  • Passyunk Avenue Bridge looking south

  • View from the Passyunk Avenue bridge, looking east

  • Essington Avenue and Auto Mall looking south

  • Philadelphia Regional Produce Market

  • 73rd Street and Lindbergh Boulevard

Lower Schuylkill Master Plan

The Lower Schuykill Master Plan

The Lower Schuylkill Master Plan was a collaborative effort to create a blueprint for high-quality sustainable redevelopment of the historically industrial corridor along the east and west banks of the Lower Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, PA. The public-private planning process was led by the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the Philadelphia City Planning Commission (PCPC) and the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, with funding from the William Penn Foundation and the City of Philadelphia. PennPraxis served as the local planning advisors and assisted in data collection, stakeholder outreach, and case study research during the preliminary phase of the process. The planning team was led by Chan Krieger NBBJ of Cambridge, MA, with a team of subconsultants.

PIDC's Philadelphia Land Utilization and Market Strategy identified the 3,700 acre study area as a primary opportunity for successful redevelopment, based on its overall size, parcel sizes, industrial character, transportation assets, separation from residential areas, and proximity to the economic engines of Center City, University City, Philadelphia International Airport and The Navy Yard. Philadelphia’s comprehensive plan, Philadelphia2035, similarly designated the area as an “industrial legacy area” with an array of redevelopment objectives, including business attraction and job creation. Redevelopment also provided an opportunity to enhance Philadelphia’s green footprint by significantly expanding the Schuylkill River Trail, enhancing public access to green and recreational amenities, integrating progressive stormwater and flood management systems, and identifying potential wetlands mitigation sites.

PennPraxis helped the team lead two phases of public input, which took place in January and April 2012.

A carefully crafted master plan was crucial to guide these improvements.  The Study will lay out a vision and identify critical improvements for the entire Study Area, as well as priority development sites suitable for early action.  The original goal was to have an iterative planning process that includes a 40-member Advisory Group, three phases of civic engagement, and a final product by late summer 2012.

The final plan for the Lower Schuylkill Master Plan was adopted in May 2013. Key features of the plan included:

  • A “river road” providing access to potential new development sites. The road would begin at 47th street and run south along the west bank of the Schuylkill.
  • 5 miles of new public river trails.
  • 46 acres of “greened space.”
  • A total investment in public infrastructure of $411 million.
  • An estimated 5,500-6,500 new jobs.

The plan calls for three distinct “campuses.” A “logistics hub”—featuring manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, and airport-related uses—would occupy the southwest corner of the master plan area. The northwest portion would be a dedicated “innovation district,” relating to the educational institutions in the area, used for research and development and creative services. The eastern portion of the planning area, on the isolated east side of the Schuylkill between the river and center city, is planned as an “energy corridor” in keeping with its historic use for oil refinery.

Bartram's Garden, 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard

Press Coverage

  • A recap of the April 2012 public presentation and feedback meetings (PlanPhilly)
  • An in-depth tour and photo essay of the 3700 acres of the Lower Schuylkill (Eyes on the Street)
  • "Unlocking our Hidden River" (Flying Kite)
  • An op-ed on the potential of the Lower Schuylkill (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Client Team

  • Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation
  • Philadelphia City Planning Commission
  • Philadelphia Department of Commerce
  • Consultant Team
  • Chan Kriger NBBJ
  • ARUP
  • HR&A Advisors
  • Lager Raabe Skafte Landscape Architects
  • Langan Engineering & Environmental Services
  • Environetics
  • KS Engineering P.C.
  • Real Estate Solutions Group, LLC

Phase I Public Input: January 2012

PIDC and PCPC held two open houses to launch the study and get feedback on ideas for the area.  Input received at these open houses will help guide the Master Plan and its recommendations.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan Open House #1 -- West Side (Richard Allen Charter School)

Thursday, January 19, 2012: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan Open House #2 -- East Side (Saint Gabriel's Hall)

Materials: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan Principles, Brainstorming Ideas, Questions

Result: Public Input Notes from Phase I Open Houses

Phase II Public Input: April 2012

PIDC and PCPC held two public meetings in which the planning team presented initial ideas and recommendations for the Master Plan, and then held an input period in which citizens got the chance to respond to specific issues of particular importance to the study area.

Wednesday, April 18: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan Feedback Session #1 -- West Side (Richard Allen Charter School)

Thursday, April 19: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan Feedback Session #2 -- East Side (Penn's new South Bank campus)

Materials: Lower Schuylkill Master Plan Display Boards, April 2012

If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to contact Kate McNamara at PIDC at or 215-496-8174.

Lower Schuylkill Master Plan study area