In a November crowded with loudly made, big deals (like Vetri Restaurants selling to Urban Outfitters), one local agreement was more of a whisper than a bang.
Festival Pier — the Live Nation-backed, outdoor live music venue noted for its annual summer jam, The Roots Family Picnic — will close after 2016's summer show season to develop the space into a mix of condominiums, restaurants and retail options.
"It will be sad to see it go," said Philly producer/artist/DJ King Britt, who has played Festival Pier countless times.
"That's a fantastic venue. ... My favorite [show] was this last Roots Picnic, 2015, by far the best one and extremely well organized. I had one of the best sets I've had in a while and there were nothing but smiles... It really helped surrounding businesses too."
Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC), the owners of Piers 27 and 27-and-1/2 at Spring Garden Street and Columbus Boulevard, have partnered with Jefferson Apartment Group and Haverford Properties (Jefferson/Haverford) for approximately 550 housing units, 30,000 square feet of retail, and public space, designed by architect Cecil Baker and landscaping firm Olin.
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The designs for what will come are not yet final.
Charlie Houder, owner and president of Haverford Properties, one of two developers named to make changes at Festival Pier, said they were selected to do the job on Oct. 30, 2015. "We are still in the process of formulating what the project will be and don’t have any further details to share at this point," Houder said.
"That parcel of land was always viewed by us as a redevelopment site when we concocted a master plan identifying several of our spaces for mixed-use residential and retail," said Joe Forkin, DRWC's VP of Operations and Development since 1997.
Forkin pointed out that before Live Nation took full control of those piers for entertainment purposes, the two lots acted as the city's vehicle impoundment lot and an incinerator that was environmentally remediated by the Army Corp of Engineers before LiveNation and the DRWC branded it as a live music hot spot.
"The past eight years of Roots Picnics, the Beastie Boys, Replacements, hosting Mad Decent and Radio 104.5 Block Parties and Forbes Under 30 Music Festival, those were some of our best events at Fest Pier," said Geoff Gordon, Live Nation's regional president.
Forkin states that Live Nation always knew that this was a possibility, that prime development sites such as these always have "recapture clauses in their licensing agreements if a higher use should happen to come along," Forkin said. "We're committed to looking with them for spaces of equal size and quality amongst those we control."
Gordon agreed: "Our collective efforts will create something as good if not better than our current location."
All that and still, has anyone told The Roots?
"They started a nice tradition," Forkin said with a laugh. "We want to keep them down here, get them a new spot that satisfies their need and keeps crowds coming."