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Delaware River’s Pier 9 to re-open as creative public space in 2018

Here’s what you can expect to find at ‘Cherry Street Pier’

The interior of the Cherry Street Pier. The ceiling is high and vaulted. There are people sitting and walking on the ground floor.
The long-abandoned Pier 9 on the Delaware River is about to get a makeover.
Renderings by Groundswell

Don’t call it Pier 9: A long-abandoned pier on the Delaware River Waterfront is set to undergo a major $4 million makeover. It’s new name? Cherry Street Pier.

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) announced yesterday that with a $683,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, it will renovate and re-open Pier 9 as a creative community space, complete with an open-air garden, food vendors, pop-up retail markets, and shipping containers-turned-offices.

Under the new name Cherry Street Pier, the 93-year old warehouse will be renovated and restored under the design leadership of Interface Studio Architects (ISA) and Groundswell, the same firm behind the massively popular Spruce Street Harbor Park and Delaware RiverRink Summer and Winter fests, both located on the river.

Pier 9, pictured in the center here, will be turned into a creative community space.
Courtesy of Shutterstock

The news comes at a key turning point for the Delaware River waterfront. Earlier this month the DRWC also announced that the $225 million Penn’s Landing/I-95 capping project would be moving forward, with the last remaining $10 million committed by the City of Philadelphia, the State of Pennsylvania, and the William Penn Foundation.

That massive undertaking is still years away, so Cherry Street Pier will be DWRC’s next project to come to fruition. The pier has sat vacant for decades, although last year it served as the backdrop for fabric artist Ann Hamilton’s ethereal “Habitus” exhibit. It was the first time the pier had been open to the public in years.

“Cherry Street Pier is the latest example of the vision of the Master Plan coming to fruition, and will contribute to the ongoing resurgence of the Delaware River Waterfront,” said DWRC’s in-coming president Joe Forkin in a statement.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what to expect at Cherry Street Pier, when it opens it late spring or summer of next year.

Shipping containers—lots of them

At the entrance of Cherry Street Pier will be a section called the Garage, which will be home to 14 shipping containers stacked on top of one another. These big boxes, ranging from 160 to 480 square feet, will serve as office space for creative entrepreneurs who can sign on for flexible leases.

A big market space

Also available for lease will be spaces for vendors to set up shop and sell their own goods. Like the offices, leases will be flexible: Market place vendors will be able to rent a space just for the afternoon, multiple days, or longer.

Renderings by ISA and Groundswell

A performance space

The middle of the pier will be reserved for the Platform, a big space that will be dedicated to art installations, performances, and other public events.

A big, open-air ‘garden’

The end of the pier will undoubtedly offer some pretty breathtaking views of the river. The plan is to remove the roofing in this section in order to expose the pier’s trestles and open sky. Dubbed the Garden, this area will be sectioned off from the rest of the space via a glass wall and feature seating, tables, and some foliage.

The Inquirer’s Inga Saffron noted that the $4 million project has to go through the Art Commission and Philadelphia Historical Commission, but DWRC says work is expected to begin as soon as late summer.