This stormwater management strategy was developed as part of the Stormwater Management Incentives Program (SMIP) Business Improvement District (BID) grant awarded by the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) in early 2013. Interface Studio was charged with developing a strategy to sustainably manage stormwater accross the District, both on Aramingo Avenue itself and the surrounding commerical properties that are part of the BID. Many of these commercial properties are home to big box retailers with suburban style layouts and large swaths of underutilized parking lots in an otherwise urban context. The runoff from these parking lots and other impervious surfaces (roofs, etc) contributes to overflowing the combined sewer system of Philadelphia during heavy rainfall events. The PWD is incentivizing these types of properties to manage their stormwater runoff on site before it can over burden the system by offering grants to implement green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) across the City. Our team studied ways in which to leverage these potential investments in GSI to beautify Aramingo Avenue and the surrounding commerical properties while improving the customer and pedestrian experience. This strategy is a win-win-win, a win for the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), the business owners, and for the local environment.
Taking advantage of this excess asphalt to manage stormwater along the corridor will not only save business owners money on their projected increased stormwater utility bills, which will total over a .5 million dollars every year starting in 2014, but also draw new customers to the shopping district by making it more attractive.
Because a centralized GSI facility was not feasible, our approach was a 2 part strategy for managing stormwater for the Aramingo Avenue Shopping District, in both the public right of way, and on priority private sites as seen in the map to the right.
Within the public right of way, there were two options for managaing stormwatwer on Aramingo Avenue, within the existing landscape (no sidewalk replacement) and what we like to refer to as 'Maximum Capacity' (shifting the sidewalk inward). The maximum capacity option provides significantly more volume, and eliminates the need for piping underneath the existing sidewalk, therefore it was found to have a much lower cost per greened acre than the existing landscape option. It also provides the added benefit of providing a landscaped buffer between the pedestrians and the busy Aramingo Avenue.
An in depth drainage analysis of the area was performed, and it quickly became apparent that Aramingo itself would not be able to manage all of the stormwater runoff from the adjacent commercial properties in a centralized facility given the existing drainage patterns. As seen below, almost every block along Aramingo Avenue drains to a separate sewer outfall.