The Lincoln Will Rise Again

lincoln-buildingWe have good news from last night’s Washington Square West Civic Association meeting: work on reconstructing the severely damaged Lincoln Apartments on Locust Street at Camac is set to begin within the next few months.

A member of the Washington Square West Civic Association said, and Councilman Mark Squilla (D-1st District) confirmed to us, that the building changed hands at a sheriff’s sale a little more than a month ago and that the new owner, David Perelman’s Pelican Properties, has announced its intention to rebuild the partially collapsed structure.

Squilla explained that efforts to restore the building were in limbo for about a year while two feuding New York investor groups argued over who owned how much of the building and what they were entitled to out of a sale. The Philadelphia sheriff’s sale settled the question for them.

According to Squilla, Perelman will meet with the WSWCA next week to discuss reconstruction plans.

 

SEPTA’s 24-Hour Weekend Subway Service Pilot Will Start June 15th

SEPTA-signs-market-frankford-line (1)

Sources at SEPTA inform us that the transit agency will launch its previously announced pilot program to operate the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines all night on Friday and Saturday nights in the overnight hours (12:30 to 5 a.m.) of Sunday, June 15th. From then through September, instead of Night Owl buses, riders can catch a train home from a night of revelry in town — something riders and Center City boosters have been clamoring for over the last few years.

Here’s how the overnight service will work:

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Inside the Greenest Building In Town

paseo verde

Image of Paseo Verde apartment house via Paseo Verde website.

Imagine an apartment where the thermostat can tell you when you’re using too much energy. How about an apartment building where bikes outnumber cars in its (mostly empty) parking garage?

We’re sure there’s nothing quite like that anywhere else in Philadelphia.

In fact, there’s nothing like Paseo Verde anywhere else in the country: It’s the first mixed-use, mixed-income residential-commercial structure to earn the new LEED-ND Platinum certification.

The “ND” stands for “Neighborhood Development,” and Paseo Verde is large enough to qualify as a neighborhood unto itself. Last week, the Urban Land Institute Philadelphia chapter offered its members a chance to take a look around the neighborhood, and we went along for the trip.

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6 Ways Philly Really Is a World-Class City

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

“After walking about it for an hour or two, I felt I would have given the world for a crooked street,” Charles Dickens wrote of his visit to Philadelphia in 1842 in his book American Notes.

He just didn’t walk far enough — all he had to do was cross what was then the city line into Southwark or Northern Liberties and he would have found some.

Dickens may not have been terribly impressed by Philadelphia, or the rest of America for that matter, but other Europeans who have followed in his footsteps have had different reactions. Perhaps it’s because they may recognize a little bit of home in this city’s streetscapes and customs. In fact, there are some who say this is the most European of all American cities.

While there are plenty of Philadelphians who have never strayed far from the place of their birth, those who have — many of whom decided they liked the place enough to stick around — have taken it international in a big way. They probably helped Philly achieve that high “International Outreach” score the researchers at the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra in Spain gave this city on their way to ranking it as the 11th-smartest city in the world and second-smartest in the U.S. behind New York in its Cities in Motion Index. But — perhaps unbeknownst to you — we’ve had a bit of the global in us all along. Here are some of the ways in which Philly has a touch of the world about it:

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Neighbors Says Yes to Apartments in Historic Trans Atlantic Warehouse

photo of trans atlantic warehouse

A 1955 photo of the Trans Atlantic Company warehouse at Fourth and Fairmount. Via phillyhistory.org

Members of the Zoning Committee of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, who met on May 19th, liked the tweaks that developer Greg Hill made to his proposed development at 420-42 Fairmount Avenue and 613-31 N. 5th Street. But many would rather there be a parking space for every dwelling in the 25 town homes and 41 (down from 48) apartments.

“Nobody has just one car any more; they all have two cars,” said one neighbor at the meeting. “When this [project] happens, and it’s gonna be overrun with cars, there’s no plan for dealing with them and it’ll destroy the character of the community.”

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Death of a Rowhome

funeral

I don’t say he’s a great man. Willie Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall in his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must finally be paid to such a person.”

-Linda, in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman

Like Willie Loman, the two-story rowhouse at 3711 Melon Street in Mantua is not remarkable – it’s not one of those buildings preservationists rally ’round when threatened with the wrecking ball. Thousands of homes like it still stand on little streets all over the city of Philadelphia: workaday homes that were the stage sets for the lives of everyday people. Thousands more like it have already met the fate this one will on May 31 – demolished either to make way for something newer and (a builder hopes) better or simply because it has gotten too old and decrepit to leave standing. If homes like these make the papers, it’s usually in the classified ads, or these days, on the real estate websites, when they go up for sale.

And like Linda, the organizers of the “Funeral for a Home” believe these homes too have stories to tell, stories as important as those of the grand old historic homes that get lovingly turned into museums. And it was with this in mind that Temple Contemporary project manager Patrick Grossi and his colleagues at Temple’s Tyler School of Art set out to find an ordinary row home whose death could serve as an occasion to tell not only a home’s story, but a family’s and a community’s as well. Read more »

NoLibs Neighbors See Through Common Developer’s Trick

Liberty Estates rendering by Arbitare Architects.

Liberty Estates rendering by Arbitare Design Studio.

A spectre haunts the dreams of developers in hot neighborhoods all over the city: the 38-foot height limit.

Written into the most common residential zoning category for close-in rowhouse neighborhoods, RSA-5, developers bump their heads up against it whenever they try to build townhouses of the kind that appeal to affluent buyers in Philly these days: three-bedroom, three (or more)-bathroom affairs with large open plan main floors, spacious master suites, multiple decks – and parking.

Fitting the parking in with all the rest is the source of the problem. The need to provide a garage all but forces a fourth floor – and thus a height above 38 feet.

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Could the End Be Near for the Lincoln Apartment Building?

lincoln-buildingEver since a July 2006 fire caused it to partially collapse, the Lincoln, an apartment building in the 1200 block of Locust Street in Washington Square West that was in the process of being converted to condos when the fire struck, has sat as a boarded-up hulk and occasional vagrant magnet while feuding owners debated the building’s fate — and ultimately lost it at a Federal marshal’s sale.

A recent note in the minutes of a Washington Square West Civic Association (WSWCA) board meeting raises the prospect that the rest of the building may disappear soon as well.

At the WSWCA’s Feb. 21 board meeting, the Intergovernmental Affairs committee reported that “the Lincoln’s new owners are interviewing demolition companies and are expected to 
close on financing and commencing work in the next 30 days.”

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Why the Rush to Revive 24-Hour SEPTA Subway Service?

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Lots of Philadelphians, particularly more recent arrivals, are excited about the prospect of the return of 24-hour rapid transit service. Restoring overnight service on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford lines, which SEPTA has announced it will do on weekends on a trial basis starting this summer, would return this city to a very select club of cities where one can catch a rapid transit train at any hour of the day. In North America, those cities currently number two: New York and Chicago.* Most other subways worldwide take the overnight hours off, though reports are that in Berlin, one can ride the U-Bahn all night on weekends as is being proposed here.

Although SEPTA spokesperson Jerria Williams recently told Metro that SEPTA has been considering this move for a while, there had been no inklings of this prior to the surfacing of an online petition urging the agency to make the change that garnered more than 25,000 signatures in a matter of about a month earlier this year.

I wonder how many of those signers actually live here, let alone ride SEPTA. Especially when a look through the agency’s own records shows that its own procedure for adding or modifying existing services produces no other evidence of any demand for this.

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15th and Walnut Buildings to Get Major Retail Upgrade

15thandwalnut2Now that PREIT owns both of the buildings at the northwest corner of 15th and Walnut streets, a major retail upgrade is in the works for the properties.

Broker Douglas Green of Michael Salove Company informs us that his firm is actively shopping the properties for multi-story retail use. Of the current tenants, only Club Monaco will remain in place. MSC’s plan is to give the upscale women’s fashion retailer more appropriate company.

MSC is particularly interested in finding a prime tenant for the corner space, which currently houses a smoke shop. Green noted the incongruity of a “hookah shop” at a major intersection that boasts a fitness club and a high-end steakhouse, with a Cheesecake Factory soon to join them.

PREIT acquired the buildings in January of this year. Louis I. Kahn, the celebrated Modernist architect, maintained his office at 1503.

Photo: Sandy Smith

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