ULI Philadelphia Blog

Five Minutes with a Finalist: Delaware River Waterfront Corporation

ULI PHL’s 5th Annual Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence finalists represent superior development projects in the greater Philadelphia region that embody the ULI mission of pushing the standard of excellence in real estate and land use and creating sustainable, thriving communities.

Joe Forkin, President of Delaware River Waterfront Corporation joins us for this week’s “Five Minutes with a Finalist”. Delaware River Waterfront Corporation has been recognized as a finalist for Spruce Street Harbor Park. Here’s what he had to say:

Who has had the greatest influence on your career and what was the best advice he or she gave you?

My father was the greatest influence on my career. I know that the following three pieces of advice my father gave me are fairly common (and may read like a motivational poster), but, hey, they had a great impact on me personally, and ultimately on my career. First, be humble – in other words, celebrate the team first, yourself second, and people will have greater appreciation for the team’s achievements. Second, be authentic – be yourself, firmly rooted in who you are and what you believe. Third, be determined – in any project or venture (or in life itself) there will be obstacles and setbacks. Don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up. Work hard (and I mean really hard) to realize your goals.

What are you most excited about in the Philadelphia area and region?

All of the upcoming attractions along the Delaware River Waterfront like the new Penn’s Landing, Delaware River Trail, and Cherry Street Pier, of course. More broadly, though, I’m not excited about any one specific thing, event, or development. I’m most excited about the whole “anything is possible” attitude – the unbelievable sense of optimism, achievement, vibrancy, and growth that Philadelphia and the region is now experiencing. Philadelphia has firmly embraced its status and profile as a truly world-class City that is second to none, and that is a wonderfully infectious outlook.

As a ULI PHL Awards nominee, what makes you most proud of your project?

I am most proud of Spruce Street Harbor Park for two reasons. First, the way the park has reconnected the waterfront to the City by reimagining and activating a forgotten space along the Delaware River. When DRWC conceived of the project, we thought that it would be a modestly popular attraction. The millions of visitors that have been to SSHP since it first opened has eclipsed all expectations and proved an important theory of DRWC’s: investment in waterfront recreational amenities will lead to the resurgence and redevelopment of the waterfront. Second, SSHP has become a gathering space for all people from all walks of life. On any given day in the park, you can find people from different backgrounds (races, creeds, ethnicities, and socio-economic statuses) gathering and interacting with one another. Everyone in the park is simply there to enjoy the setting and have fun. All pretenses and preconceived notions seem to melt away, so all that is left is getting to know the person next to you and enjoying the experience. For me the park embodies what sociologist Elijah Anderson would refer to as the “Cosmopolitan Canopy” – in Professor Anderson’s words, “the urban island of civility that exists amidst the ghettos, suburbs, and ethnic enclaves where segregation is the norm. Under the cosmopolitan canopy, diverse peoples come together, and for the most part practice getting along.”

Winners announced live June 13

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