Start a Project

Start a Riverfront Project in Your Town


I want to create a riverfront project in my town. Where do I start?

Riverlife has learned a lot of lessons as we’ve helped transform Pittsburgh’s riverfronts into appealing destinations for people. Now we want to help you!

You’re in the right place if you’re considering starting one of these projects in your city or town:

  • A trail
  • Waterfront playground
  • Dog park
  • Fishing pier
  • Waterfront restaurant or café
  • Boat dock or marina
  • Performance space or sporting venue
  • Residential or commercial building with waterfront public open space
  • Or something else entirely that will bring your waterfront to life!

We’ll walk you through a few basic principles for starting a successful waterfront project. For a more in-depth look at planning and executing a waterfront project, take a look at our Riverfront Resources Guides.

Resource Guide #1: Partnership Building
Resource Guide #2: Fundraising
Resource Guide #3: Design and Construction


Include these 8 principles in your project to draw people to the waterfront:

Feature the riverfront as the front door

Showcase the river’s history

Activate the riverfront

Limit obstacles and connect to the river

Engage with the water

Connect seamlessly along the riverfront and into neighborhoods

Repair and enhance the environment

Employ high quality architectural materials and sustainable engineering practices

Dive Deeper

Find out more about each principle by downloading individual chapters of our Guide to Riverfront Development:

Recommendations for enhancing the character of your project through landscaping, public art, maintenance, lighting and more.

Read Character

How to get people more easily to the riverfront by creating perpendicular connections such as sidewalks, streets, pathways and promenades.

Read Connections

Information about restoring and protecting riparian habitat and creating buffer zones along the waterfront.

Read Natural

Recommendations for waterfront buildings, including contextual scale and massing, setbacks and build-to lines, ground floor design, and building materials.

Read Built

Pennsylvania Waterfront Development Tax Credit (Senate Bill 282, House Bill 457)

The PA Waterfront Development Tax Credit for Fiscal Year 2017-2018 encourages private investment in properties that create public access to the waterfront. The benefits to the public include job creation, increased property values, more recreation areas, and a chance to clean up blight or areas with ecological issues. Find out if your waterfront project in a Pennsylvania city or town is eligible.

Find out more about our work in Pennsylvania and West Virginia river towns and cities here.

Riverlife’s outreach program to provide riverfront planning tools to Monongahela River towns is funded through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.