It’s been 15 years in the making (remember the billboard?), but everyone who spoke at the official groundbreaking for the new 17-story apartment complex seemed in agreement that not only is it the right time for this type of project, but also that the latest iteration is the best vision for the long-vacant lot at 2nd and Race in Old City.
Fighting the woosh of the passing PATCO trains on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge overhead and the typical August heat, developer Jeffery Brown, of Brown Hill Development, stood at a podium on the construction site and said that it is their intention to deliver a project “well worth waiting for.” Once dubbed 205 Race, the project has a new lease on life and a new name as well. It will simply be called “Bridge.”
Brown heaped praise on Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger at the ceremony. Not only did he credit Greenberger for eventually getting the project over the hump (seriously, 15 years!), Brown joked that it was a close call between naming the building the Bridge or after its biggest champion: “I wanted to call it the Greenberger.”
Greenberger said that the design from Gluck+ “represents the best of what we can do in this city” and lauded its “richness” in how it carefully responds to Race Street, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the impact it will have bringing density to the northern edge of Old City and further connecting people to the Delaware River waterfront.
“This is a real hard building to pull off,” said Greenberger, who was later interrupted by the passing PATCO train. “We got an email, shut up when the train comes,” he quipped.
“Bridge bridges many things,” said Peter Gluck, principal designer for the project, in a press release. “Old City to the new Philly. Eyes on the street to grand views of the city at large. Early twentieth century infrastructure to the scale of the new city. Eighteenth century masonry to high-rise glass and steel. The building is effect a metaphor for these transitions.”
Though the troubles with the neighboring billboard are well documented, Greg Hill, development partner with Brown Hill, said that Philly gets a “bad rap” for being a tough place to build, but found the opposite is true. He called the project “collaborative.”
Once complete in early 2017, the LEED Gold-certified building will consist of 146-units (15 of which will be set aside as affordable units), 14,000-square-feet of ground floor retail, on-site car and bicycle parking and an amenity deck on the fifth floor that will feature a gym, co-working lounge, a green roof and a barbecue areas.
The project recently received a $45 million construction loan from Citizens Bank and is expected to cost $65 million overall.