Green Incentives: New Bill Encourages LEED Silver-Certified Buildings in Philly

Efforts to make Philadelphia greener continue. Currently, for example, having LEED Gold and Platinum certification allows builders within certain zoning districts to increase their height and floor area. Now, those with LEED Silver certification might receive similar zoning bonuses.

Earlier this month, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced a bill,  co-sponsored by Councilman Mark Squilla, that would “provide floor area and height zoning bonuses for developers who meet Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification,” according to a press release.

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Attention Philly Builders: Including Green Roofs Might Get You More Density

Might this be the push builders need to get their green on when it comes to residential projects? Last week, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown introduced the “Residential Green Roof Zoning Bonus,” a bill aiming to encourage the inclusion of green roofs in Philadelphia by allowing residential developers to build more on a smaller plot of land.

This bill, a spokesperson from the Councilwoman’s office tells us, “would drop the minimum lot size requirement to 800 square feet in two zoning districts, RM-1 and RSA-5, where an approved green roof is constructed” if passed.

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Renderings: What South Street’s Historic Royal Theater May Soon Look Like


As mentioned earlier this morning, PMC Property Group’s proposed 10-story building in Old City isn’t the only big project the city’s Architectural Committee will be reviewing tomorrow. There are several more to be sure, but the only other one with this much–perhaps more–power to tweak the fabric of a neighborhood is Dranoff Properties’ planned Royal Theater redevelopment, which would see everything but the building’s façade razed to make way for a mixed-use development with luxury housing and below-grade parking.

According to Hidden City’s Michael Bixler, the latest plan for the historic structure involves 40 luxury residential units, below-grade garage with 20 parking spaces, and 7,000 square feet of commercial space. Presenting before the Committee will be Dranoff Properties and Universal Community Homes, the latter of who Bixler reports will also go before the Committee of Financial Hardship on June 30th to try to “circumvent the legal protections of the local [historical] register.”

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Headlines: Dead on Arrival? Committee to Review New 10-Story Project in Old City

Top: View of site from Arch St; Bottom: View of site from south end of Little Boys Court| Images via Google Street View

Top: View of site from Arch St; Bottom: View of site from south end of Little Boys Court| Images via Google Street View

UPDATE: A request to the Philadelphia Historical Commission for an image of the proposed building at 218 Arch Street was answered several hours after this post was published. The rendering can be viewed below.


Among the projects the city’s Architecture Committee is set to hear tomorrow, PMC Property Group’s proposed 10-story mixed-use building in Old City is one of the big ones. Plans include ground-level retail along Arch, two stories of underground parking, and “five or six stories of apartments” with more stories rising in stages the farther back it goes.

However, the Inquirer’s Jacob Adelman reports committee staffers have already expressed a desire for the project to “be scrapped.” Dead on arrival? Not quite. As Adelman notes, the committee “makes non binding recommendations to the full commission” (emphasis ours).

Set on a parking lot at 218 Arch Street (and extending all the way to 226), the intended $28.5 million development would fall on Little Boy’s Court, a small passage said to be “the city’s last remaining cobblestone lane” and a point on which officials noted developers had not voiced significant information regarding its restoration, though their plans do call for it to be included in the development in relation to a courtyard.

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Urban Land Institute Honors Five Amazing Philly Projects with Willard G. Rouse Awards

FringeArts project by Wallace, Roberts & Todd | Photo credit: Halkin Mason Photography

FringeArts project by Wallace, Roberts & Todd | Photo credit: Halkin Mason Photography

Back in 2014, the Urban Land Institute in Philadelphia had its first Willard G. “Bill” Rouse III Awards for Excellence, a prize ceremony intent on recognizing the area’s best real estate projects within the last five years. This week, the organization held its second annual award ceremony, which resulted in wins for five Philadelphia applicants and two from Allentown and Norristown. They are as follows, per the press release:

  • 3737 Science Center (Philadelphia) — $119 million venture between the University City Science Center and Wexford Science + Technology. 13-story, 334,000-square-foot facility for clinical, research, and office programs on a former brownfields site. Supports STEM/STEAM initiatives for low-income secondary school students. (They seem to make a good team, don’t they?)
  • Allentown Arena Complex (Allentown) — Multipurpose arena and entertainment complex with mixed-use commercial development and within “a pedestrian-oriented infill site incorporating two historic buildings.” The development has served as a catalyst for adjacent new residential and commercial redevelopment and has enhanced Allentown’s image.
  • Chestnut Square (Philadelphia) — $100.7 million mixed-use development at Drexel University. Two 8-story buildings with attached 19-story residential tower with luxury amenities. Creative partnership allowed developer “to achieve the University’s mission while limiting its balance sheet exposure, and the use of efficient building systems and materials is significant.”
  • FringeArts (Philadelphia) — Semi-abandoned historic pumping station near the Ben Franklin Bridge adaptively reused into a premier venue for the Fringe Festival. Includes 15,500-square-foot performance space, 225-square-foot black-box theater, rehearsal studio, office, gastro-pub, and outdoor plaza with picnic-style outdoor dining. Pictured above.
  • The View at Montgomery (Philadelphia) — 14-story student housing building at Temple University’s main campus. Designed by Wallace, Roberts and Todd, it features 238 units, street-level retail, and sustainable storm water management and immersive recycling. Student amenities include study and computer lounges, fitness pavilion, two acres of green space, and street-level restaurant sourcing environmentally-friendly ingredients.

As for the the two other 2015 winners, we had the opportunity to speak with them and got a first-hand look at how their respective projects were shaped and the subsequent effects on their neighborhoods.

“We approached it from three different directions,” says Stacey Humphreys Blankin, an Associate at Strada Architecture, the firm recruited by the Food Trust to help with their Fresh Corner Store Showcase Conversions pilot project. The program had for its goal the conversion of five corner stores in challenged neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia into safe, accessible, and health-promoting spaces.

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It’s Full Steam Ahead at Two Game-Changing Park Projects in South Philly

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The upcoming plans for Smith Playground | via Urban Roots

Connor Barwin has become somewhat of a folk hero here in Philly. When he isn’t making big time plays on the gridiron, he’s spearheading a few game-changing community revitalization projects at two South Philly parks through his foundation, the Make The World Better Project.

Through a partnership with the urban development non-profit Urban Roots Foundation, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and a slew of other local stakeholders, Barwin and crew are in the thick of a major project at Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker in Point Breeze and are about to kick off their efforts at another one, Smith Playground at 24th and Jackson. Jeffrey Tubbs, a Philly-based developer with JDT International and founder of Urban Roots, said that the project took its, ah-hem, roots over two and a half years ago with a meeting with Jahmall Crandall, the founder of (short for I am South Philadelphia). Crandall’s original vision sought to redo the ragged basketball courts at the park. Let’s just say he got his wish and a whole lot more.

Tubbs said the ideas then started to snowball into something bigger. First, enlarge and resurface the court and outfit it with a pair of top notch hoops. Next, freshen up the tot lot with a softer look and brand new play equipment. Then, as Tubbs explained, the project reached a tipping point when the PWD got involved and provided nearly $200,000 to install green infrastructure–namely, a rain garden in the southernmost part of the park–and advanced storm water management systems.

Boom–that’s all, right? It turns out that this is just the beginning.

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WATCH: Local Artist Paints Market Street and Other Phillyscape Scenes

Artist Timothy Caison has done a number of Philadelphia cityscape scenes, which as you know, is one of our favorite things to share on Property. Check out his latest piece of a lit-up Market Street in the video above.

According to his website, Caison is a North Philadelphia native who graduated from Temple and Moore College of Art and Design.

Habitat: A Light-Filled Home in Jenkintown

All photos by Sam Oberter

All photos by Sam Oberter

I wouldn’t say I don’t like color,” says Anne Flynn, who, along with her husband, Sean, has owned this light-filled home in Jenkintown for 12 years. “I like the color to be in the art.”

It’s a straightforward statement, but one that holds true throughout each of the perfectly, if serendipitously, curated spaces on the home’s first floor. Works from local artists Jimmy Lueders and Martha Madigan as well as iconic street artist Shepard Fairey share wall space with the home’s framed original 1936 blueprints. Read more »

University City Science Center Plans Massive Live-Work Innovation Hub

The central public square | Rendering: Wexford Science + Technology, Photos: James Jennings

The surge in development in University City is showing no signs of slowing down, especially now that Wexford Science + Technology has unvieled plans to help the University City Science Center expand into a massive live-work neighborhood anchored by office and lab space, at least 300 (and potentially up to 600) apartments, plenty of retail and restaurants, new walkable streets and even a public square designed to give the 14-acre campus a sense of place.

Last week, the Science Center announced that they were looking to beef up their footprint to nearly 4 million square-feet as University City continues to position itself as an innovation hub in the heart of the Mid-Atlantic region. A major part of that is a partnership with Wexford, who will develop 10-acres worth of the former Univsersity City High School site.

“It’s the culmination of ongoing success among the anchor institutions in University City,” Science Center CEO Stephen Tang told BizPhilly’s Jared Shelly last week. “The growth of Penn, Drexel, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — and the success we’ve had lately in nurturing startup companies that graduated from our incubator and wanted to stay in our facilities — makes this project possible.”

Here’s more on the plan

Is the Home of the Future Being Built in Gettysburg?

The model home at the Links at Gettysburg | Photos: High Performance Homes

The model home at the Links at Gettysburg | Photos: High Performance Homes

There is an interesting development happening out in Historic Gettysburg that has grabbed our attention. The Links at Gettyburg is rolling out a different kind of golf community that looks to bring super-efficient homes built at the cutting-edge of energy efficiency standards.

High Performance Homes (HPH) has built a model home on the European-style links course that recently received the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Homes certification. A press release states, “By exceeding the rigorous DOE Zero Energy Ready Home National Program Requirements, this home is effectively in the top 1 percent of homes in the nation for outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health and durability.” This is a big deal, as the building standards for Zero Net Energy Homes will eventually become the residential building standard for all new homes in the future. In fact, California recently launched a Zero Net Energy Action Plan that will look to “build a self-sustaining market for all new homes to be net-zero energy by 2020.”

A ribbon cutting for the model home is scheduled for Friday, June 12 and Samuel Rashkin, Chief Architect for the DOE Building Technologies Office will be in attendance to “raise awareness for the environmental and consumer benefits of homes built to these stringent standards.”

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