Crews have started tearing down the towering cement archway near Penn’s Landing’s Great Plaza amphitheater that was built almost two decades ago to anchor an ill-fated tramway to Camden.
A.P. Construction Inc. of Blackwood began demolishing the never-used tram tower on Friday, the day that a statewide ban on such work aimed at fighting the coronavirus was lifted, said Almaz Crowe, a spokesperson for the Delaware River Waterfront Corp.
The tower and a South Jersey sibling had been built in 2002 as part of a plan championed by former Mayor Ed Rendell involving a complex that was to have been built by mall developer Simon Property Group with a historic carousel, the Please Touch Museum, and a Cheesecake Factory restaurant.
But after the tower was built — at what is said to have been a cost of about $16 million — Simon pulled out of the plan, leaving each side of the Delaware River with its own useless vertical slab.
The DRWC, a city-affiliated nonprofit that manages development along central Philadelphia’s Delaware River waterfront, began fielding bids from contractors to demolish the tower in September.
A.P. Construction was selected for the job with a $700,000 bid, Crowe said. Work is expected to take two months with coronavirus-related safety protocols in place, she said.
The tower sits on a 7.4-acre section of Penn’s Landing for which the DRWC is soliciting development proposals involving high-rise dwellings and a possible hotel.
Proposals are also being reviewed for a new enclave of low- or mid-rise residential buildings on a separate 3.7-acre section of Penn’s Landing bounded by Spruce and Lombard Streets that is now mostly occupied by a parking lot.