Philadelphia Lower Frankford Creek Watershed U.S. EPA Brownfields Area-Wide Plan

Frankford Creek is a tributary of the Delaware River that runs through Frankford, Bridesburg, and several other neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Once a resource that drew the textile industry and residents, the Frankford Creek is now a mostly undesirable area and a degraded landscape that puts the surrounding community at risk of floods and pollution. It is estimated that at one point there were as many as 150 textile mills in Frankford neighborhood alone. The area’s more recent industrial activity has including large-scale chemical and coke manufacturing. The Lower Frankford Creek Watershed Brownfields Area-Wide Plan addresses the redevelopment of post-industrial catalyst sites and areas within the overall Lower Frankford Creek watershed study area which also includes a significant portion of Delaware Riverfront.

Brownfield Site Redevelopment

Reuse plans for catalyst sites, which include the former Edgewater Dying Co., Philadelphia Coal and Coke (now National Grid) and Rohm  & Haas (now Dow Chemical) placed an emphasis on community needs such public access, connecting to greenways, and remaining sensitive to the existing fabric of the neighborhoods as well as identifying economically viable private reuses.  The communities that comprised the study area face many challenges related to environmental justice due the long-standing heavy industrial history. The Rohm and Haas site was possibly the oldest continually operation chemical manufacturing plant in the United States, with chemical activity dating back to at least 1842 and the site being used for other manufacturing uses much earlier. SGA’s work focused extensively on the coordination between current brownfield site property holders and the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on determining a viable roadmap for linking community-desired reuses with the environmental regulatory permitting process. This was especially important since the owners of the two largest sites were actively positioning their properties for regulatory approval for reuse and ultimately for sale to third party developers. SGA led the coordination between the U.S. EPA, PADEP, City agencies and property owners on determining consensus on a strategy within the AWP planning framework to realize the most desirable outcome for the private and public sectors.

Public Open Spaces, Greenways and Urban Stormwater Management

Two greenway efforts, the Frankford Creek Greenway and the North Delaware Greenway/K&T Trail were major drivers of the designs for redevelopment. Residents in the study area have ostensibly been denied public access to these major waterways within their neighborhoods for more than a century. The greenways strategy developed through the public engagement process of the AWP planning effort completes important connections between potential redevelopment generated from the reuse of brownfields sites, the surrounding neighborhoods, and the important regional waterways. The public open space framework establishes an interconnect chain of public spaces, trails and stormwater management areas that serve overlapping but important needs. 

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