Broad and Washington Development Scorecard: Blatstein’s 1001 vs. Alterra’s Lincoln Square

Property's one-stop comparison guide to the proposals on opposite sides of the most prominent underdeveloped intersection on Broad Street.
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The Lincoln Square proposal (left) is just starting down the path towards realization, while Tower Investments’ proposal across Broad Street (right) will be revised yet again. | Renderings: Lincoln Square, © BLT Architects, courtesy MIS Capital LLC; Blatstein, Cope Linder Architects

With the announcement last week that Alterra Property Group had signed on to develop the mostly empty lot at the northwest corner of Broad and Washington, complete with renderings of a mixed-use project to be dubbed “Lincoln Square,” both sides of the most prominent underdeveloped intersection on Broad Street are now in play. Bart Blatstein‘s Tower Investments, of course, has big — and controversial plans for the northeast corner of the intersection.

The two projects are similar in concept but different in form, and their receptions thus far reflect the differences. Residents of Graduate Hospital have so far given Lincoln Square a warm reception, according to news reports, while those living in Hawthorne still want Bart Blatstein to give his proposal a big haircut.

Up until now, though, there’s not been a single spot where you can turn to for a complete rundown of the two projects’ merits, demerits and progress. With the table below, we’ve fixed that problem for you.

 
Northeast Corner
Northwest Corner
Name of Project1001 South BroadLincoln Square, in honor of the railroad depot that stood on this site; President Abraham Lincoln's body was displayed here after he was assassinated
DeveloperTower Investments (Bart Blatstein)Alterra Property Group and MIS Capital LLC
ArchitectCope Linder Architects LLCBLT Architects (BLTa)
Total Size (in square feet)1.8 million495,000
Retail Space, in square feet143,000 (approx.)74,000
Height of tallest building, in feet (number of stories)371 (34)115 (10)
Number of Residential Units950-1,000356
Parking Spaces Provided625 (approx.), in a three-story above-ground garage360 (approx.), in a three-story garage with one underground level
Project CostN/A$100 million+
Notable FeaturesRooftop shopping village with apartments above stores, reminiscent of a village in Provence Blatstein visitedPreserves former railroad freight terminal used by the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore, later the Pennsylvania Railroad
Neighborhood responseBlatstein has gone before the Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition several times with revisions to his original plan. Most neighborhood residents remain opposed to the proposal, chiefly because of the height of the main residential tower.As this proposal was formally unveiled only last week, there's been no official response from the South of South Neighborhood Association, but news reports have stated that the group likes what it has been shown so far in informal meetings.
Current statusIn response to feedback from members of the Civic Design Review panel, Blatstein submitted a revised design that replaces the glass-enclosed entrance to the rooftop shopping village with an open set of stairs topped by a new office pavilion. The revision also trimmed the bulk, but not the height, of the apartment tower. CDR will take up the revised design April 5.Just starting down the path of formal review. The developer is seeking to have the lot's zoning changed from industrial to commercial mixed-use rather than seek a variance.

So: how to score the projects?

1001 South Broad

Advocates for this project say that South Broad Street is the place for projects of this size and scale. Its neighbors beg to differ, saying this project is overly dense for its location so far south of Center City proper. There are also the issues of parking and how the retail space is configured. While neighbors say there’s too little parking, Blatstein argues that the project is designed around the carless lifestyle Millennials appear to prefer, and points out that there’s a subway station a block away. Even advocates, however, have some issues with the project’s commercial component: Many say that the big-box podium will do little or nothing to promote walkability. Architect Cecil Baker, a member of the Civic Design Review panel, asked specific questions about the rooftop shopping village in that regard, wondering whether it would be truly accessible and effective four floors above the street without an easily identifiable entrance. A revised design addressed Baker’s concerns but did just about nothing to respond to other criticisms of the design. Blatstein has flatly ruled out as too costly one that could make just about all the other elements of the project work better, namely, burying the parking garage.

Lincoln Square

From the looks of it, the developers of Lincoln Square have been paying attention to the criticisms leveled at 1001 South Broad. Its plan includes a pedestrian path in the middle of the site, running from Broad Street to 15th, and a pedestrian plaza next to the former freight depot; both may have outdoor seating. One of the parking levels is underground, which makes for a lower overall height as well, but it won’t spare this project a trip to the ZBA, for Broad Street has a zoning overlay that forbids any new above-ground parking structures. (Were it not for the above-ground parking, 1001 South Broad could be built by right on its lot, which is zoned for the densest commercial mixed-use development with no height limit.) This project is about one-third the size of its counterpart across Broad Street, which suggests that Blatstein need not go as big as he has in order to make his project work. Unless, that is, he paid too much for his lot.

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Sandy Smith Home and Real Estate Editor @MarketStEl
ssmith@phillymag.com