Remembering Walt D’Alessio: A Legacy of Vision, Dedication and Partnership

by PIDC
July 3, 2024

Categories: Walt D'allesio,

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Dear PIDC Stakeholders,

It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news of the passing of Walter D’Alessio, a towering figure in our community and the long-time board chair and former chief executive of PIDC, the city’s public-private economic development corporation. Walt’s life was a testament to dedication, vision, public-private partnership, and an unwavering commitment to the growth and prosperity of our city, touching nearly every corner of and helping create the modern day Philadelphia we know and love today. 

From humble beginnings as a farmer’s son in Butler County, Pennsylvania, his vision and tireless efforts transformed Philadelphia in ways that few could have imagined. For 44 years, including 34 as board chairman, Walt’s leadership at PIDC was marked by his ability to transcend boundaries. He worked alongside many city leaders, earning their universal respect and admiration. His integrity, intelligence, and genuine care for Philadelphia and its people is unmatched. Read more about Walt’s impact and legacy in this article published a few years ago and in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

Upon his arrival in Philadelphia in 1960, Walt played a pivotal role in revitalizing Society Hill and the area around Independence Hall, ensuring that the historical integrity of the area was preserved while modernizing its infrastructure. His work allowed for the redevelopment of a former industrial district into one of Philadelphia’s most iconic neighborhoods and for millions of visitors to experience Independence Hall in a setting befitting the birthplace of America. Walt’s leadership was also instrumental in achieving the vision of a new commuter tunnel on East Market Street, connecting the two legacy industrial railroads to form the backbone of a modern regional transit system, anchored by major commercial centers. 

Walt’s influence extended beyond urban planning. He was instrumental in retaining major companies like Rohm and Haas, Tastykake, and Dietz & Watson — along with countless jobs— within the city limits, fostering an environment where businesses could thrive. His strategic vision guided Philadelphia’s transition from a manufacturing-based economy to one embracing the technology, tourism and hospitality, and healthcare sectors.

Walt’s career embodied a series of transformative projects that reshaped Philadelphia, starting at the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia. His tenure at PIDC marked the beginning of the organization’s reputation as a leading economic development agency nationally. His leadership helped guide one of PIDC’s most notable achievements over several decades with the redevelopment of the former U.S. Navy shipyard, which has generated 15,000 new jobs and continues to drive economic growth.

He leaves a legacy not just in the buildings and projects he helped create but in the ethos he instilled in PIDC. Walt believed in innovation, creativity, collaboration, and a relentless work ethic — values that continue to guide our organization. Walt embodied the true sense of public-private partnership that has defined PIDC for 65 years. Since 2019, PIDC has offered a scholarship in his honor to help empower the next generation of Philadelphia leaders and to remember Walt’s impact on our growth and success.

Walt’s passing is a profound loss for us all. As we mourn his death, we also celebrate his extraordinary life and the indelible mark he left on Philadelphia, PIDC and all of us he touched. His vision, dedication, and love for this city will continue to inspire us as we move forward. 

Please join me in extending our deepest condolences to Walt’s family and friends during this difficult time. Let us honor his memory by continuing to work towards the vibrant, prosperous Philadelphia he envisioned.

Sincerely,

Jodie L. Harris 
President
PIDC

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