From a historic chocolate factory to an affordable housing complex, sites across the city are slated to receive new green stormwater infrastructure (GSI).

Created to manage stormwater while reducing bill costs, these green systems will soon be installed on 14 more properties thanks to our Stormwater Grants Program. Distributed through two rounds of grants each year, the program funds the design and construction of stormwater retrofit projects on non-residential properties in Philadelphia.

These retrofits hit three major benefits: beautify properties, decrease monthly water bills, and reduce combined sewer overflow pollution in our creeks and rivers.

During this past fiscal year alone, approximately $19,000,000 in grants have been awarded.

Since Green City, Clean Waters began 12 years ago, we’ve installed GSI projects on dozens of properties through this grants initiative, totaling more than $192 million awarded to non-residential property owners.

Since 2011, about 34 percent of the Greened Acres implemented through Green City, Clean Waters were made possible by non-residential properties taking advantage of our Stormwater Incentives, including the Grants Program.

An example of a retrofit rain garden installed outside of Columbus Square Park in South Philly.

Partnering with City Agencies

As a City of Philadelphia agency, we’re excited to partner with two fellow departments also tasked with serving residents. Both Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) are grant recipients this year.

PHA’s Wilson Park apartments, located in the Grays Ferry neighborhood, are planning to build six rain gardens and a subsurface basin designed by Greenprint Partners. The GSI will manage 3.8 “Greened Acres.”

(Each “Greened Acre” proposed for grant sites will manage nearly 30,000 gallons of runoff during a one-inch rainstorm!)

Wilson Park is the largest public affordable housing development in the entire city, based on the number of units.

The South Philly site encompasses four senior living towers and more than 400 low-rise family homes. The complex also serves as a community hub, including housing a Boys & Girls Club and an older adult program.

“The GSI plan makes the most of open green space in the midcentury International style design of the site by maximizing vegetative stormwater management,” says Dinesh Indala, Senior Executive Vice President, Operations for PHA. “Adding planted rain gardens in lawn areas will better manage run-off from the site and assist in the community health priorities identified with residents: improved air quality and mental health, reducing loitering, beautification, and sparking cross-generational interest in nature. PHA is excited to partner with PWD on this project delivering community-centered green infrastructure.”

On North 9th Street between Cecil B. Moore and Montgomery Avenues, PGW headquarters will install a rain garden and depaving improvements, designed by Pennoni. The GSI will add more than 4 Greened Acres to our combined sewer overflow management.

In addition to improving the property’s surface conditions, this project is anticipated to save PGW and its customers between 50 and 65 percent in monthly stormwater management costs.

“We appreciate the generosity of the Philadelphia Water Department,” says Arthur Hall, Director of Special Projects and Facilities at PGW. “PGW is grateful to receive this grant and happy to play a role improving the environment at our headquarters and for city residents.”

Historic Factories With a Modern Twist

Long-established institutions will be met with contemporary features.

Newman & Company, a more than a century-old paper company, will be the site of a massive subsurface basin and water reuse system designed by Ruggiero Plante Land Design, with project management and construction by Brandywine.

The Wissinoming-based manufacturer is family-owned and produces more than 70,000 tons of 100% recycled paperboard on an annual basis. It will continue its contributions to the community with a whopping nearly 15 Greened Acres of stormwater management.

“Newman and Co. is looking forward to working with PWD to complete the second stage of our campus stormwater reclamation project,” says Michael Ferman, Newman and Co. property owner. “This project further advances our over 100-year-old mission of recycling both natural as well as manufactured resources. We’re hopeful the water recovered in this new system will significantly reduce the over 200,000 gallons of freshwater currently supplied by PWD on a daily basis.”

Renderings of the revitalized chocolate factory. Improvements include a new green stormwater infrastructure system. (Image created by ISA)

Located in Frankford, the former Blumenthal Brothers Chocolate Company was originally built in 1922. More than 100 years later, the chocolate factory site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2023. It closed in 1984 after decades of manufacturing chocolate products, such as Goobers, Raisinets, and Sno-caps.

Today, it will be home to a new subsurface basin designed by Ruggiero Plante Land Design, managing more than 3 Greened Acres.

“We greatly appreciate the award of a PWD stormwater grant for the Blumenthal Chocolate Factory historic restoration project in Frankford,” says Greg Hill, owner of the chocolate factory site. “This ambitious project will revitalize the surrounding neighborhood by eliminating blight and bringing growth and job opportunities to this economically distressed community. The installation of a managed stormwater system, made possible by the PWD grant, will reduce operating expenses and provide a direct benefit in attracting new tenants to the facility. Additionally, the installation of the new system will help to relieve stress on the City’s water treatment plants and will enhance water quality in our creeks and rivers.”

Engaging Local Youth

Since the start of Green City, Clean Waters, schools have been a core component of our community-focused work.

An example of green stormwater infrastructure on school property, this rain garden is located at Adaire Elementary School in Fishtown.

To date, dozens of Philadelphia schoolyards have engaged with us to implement GSI.

One of this year’s recipients is Antonia Pantoja Charter School. Home to students in Kindergarten through 8th grade, the institution implements a bi-lingual curriculum, teaching thousands of students in English and Spanish.

This Hunting Park school will receive two subsurface basins and two rain gardens, designed by Greenprint Partners. The rain garden will not only help manage combined sewer overflows, but it will also serve as an educational tool for the students.

“We are excited about our project because it will provide more hands-on opportunities for our scholars,” says Sandra Gonzalez, principal of Antonia Pantoja Charter School. “They will learn outdoors and will assist in beautifying our school.”

Congratulations to all of our 2022-2023 Stormwater Grant Awardees!

  • Newman Paper Company
  • 322 Hunting Park Corp
  • South Philly Plaza
  • Chocolate Factory LLC
  • PHA Wilson Park Apartments
  • Antonia Pantoja Charter School
  • Front Gate Enterprises
  • The Philadelphia School Renovations
  • PGW Stormwater Retrofit
  • Etna Construction
  • Student Realty LLC
  • Zitner’s Candy
  • Work Gloves Depot
  • Horatio B Hackett School
Learn more about the December 2022 and June 2023 Stormwater Grant recipients!

Interested in a Stormwater Retrofit Grant?

Our next grant deadline is October 18th, 2023.

Pre-application meetings are now open for the fall Grant Deadline!

Be sure to check our website for the most up-to-date resources and sign up for the Stormwater Grants email newsletter.

There are various ways to utilize the Stormwater Grants Rubric outlined in our Stormwater Grants Application Guide. The rubric tackles criteria such as:

  • Community Impact
  • Greening
  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Project Funding
  • Right-of-Way (ROW) Impervious Area Capture
  • Strong Property Owner Involvement

Get Connected!

Last summer, we officially launched Stormwater Connect — an online tool designed to link green stormwater vendors with non-residential property owners.

Vendors sign up and complete a profile with their specialties, they can start searching for potential projects that align with their expertise.

When a property owner signs up, they will find a list of vendors that match their needs using filters, such as experience building particular GSI, and vendors they’re interested in are notified.

From there, vendors can request a direct follow-up. Once connected, they can confirm what is possible on the non-residential site and a Stormwater Grant team partnership can be formed.

Then, the team applies for a grant, which can cover up to 100% of design and construction costs.

Get connected now!