The west elevation of the revised Blatstein mixed-use project. Rendering | Cope Linder Architects
On Wednesday, the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted to approve developer Bart Blatstein’s plans for a 32-story apartment tower and rooftop retail village on a vacant lot at Broad and Washington in South Philly. Then, later, it realized it had jumped the gun by voting just one week after the zoning hearing, at which time it had said it would hold its decision for two weeks. So it vacated its vote and will presumably vote to approve the project next week.
But on Thursday, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson—who opposed the project when it went to the zoning board—introduced a bill that would put a one-year moratorium on construction of any kind on that property. Read more »
The revised design for Bart Blatstein’s Broad and Washington development, which received the special exceptions he sought from the ZBA today. Rendering | Cope Linder Architects
After saying it would need two weeks to mull over everything developer Bart Blatstein presented at its April 26th meeting, the Zoning Board of Adjustment Wednesday voted to grant the two special exceptions Blatstein sought for his mixed-use residential/retail/office development at the northeast corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue. Then, later in the same meeting, the board reportedly decided that it should wait until it said it would vote and vacated its earlier decision.
A Philadelphia Inquirer news report stated that board chairman Jim Moylan could not be reached for comment on why the board went ahead and voted a week before it said it would. A source who remained until the end of the meeting to hear another case later reported that shortly before that last case, the board members recused themselves, then came back and announced that they had to vacate the earlier vote because their earlier vote to continue Blatstein’s case for two weeks had to stand. Read more »
The green roof atop Temple’s new library will combine functionality with beauty. Rendering | Snøhetta
Thanks to a low-interest loan from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the new Temple University Library will have an eco-friendly place for browsers through its one floor of open book stacks to relax and read.
The university announced yesterday (May 3) that it has received $6.7 million in financing from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PENNVEST) that will allow it to install a green roof, permeable paving, rainwater harvesting cisterns and stormwater piping on top of the library. This infrastructure will keep water from flowing into North Philadelphia’s already overburdened sewer system when rain or storms pass through the area. Read more »
Two perspective views of the Cambria Hotel, to be built at Broad and Locust streets. Renderings | DAS Architects
Mama Angelina’s was a reliably cheap and middle-of-the-road pizza joint at Broad and Locust, the type of eatery that’s steadily vanishing from Center City.
This afternoon, the Civic Design Review Committee will have a look at its replacement: Cambria Hotel & Suites, a 14-story, 222-room hotel from developer Pearl Properties. The project involves demolishing the parking garage on Broad Street, just north of Perch Pub. The garage would be replaced with the hotel tower. The proposal would maintain the scale of the Perch Pub building on the corner; it would also maintain the billboard on top of it. The project is designed by DAS. Read more »
So far, no one’s been happy with Bart Blatstein’s 1001 South Broad proposal. The developer gave the ZBA so much material that it wants two weeks to mull it all over. | Rendering: Cope Linder Architects
Bart Blatstein will have to wait two more weeks to find out whether he has permission to pursue his vision for a rooftop retail village and 32-story apartment tower with garage parking for 600 cars on a long-vacant lot at Broad Street and Washington Avenue, at the southwest corner of Hawthorne. The zoning board opted to hold a decision on the project while it considers the “excessive information” presented at a hearing on Wednesday afternoon.
Blatstein is seeking two special exceptions from the zoning code to build 1,000 apartments and 625 parking spaces on the lot. At the hearing, community members objected to the project over a host of concerns, while zoning board chairman Jim Moylan tried to limit their comments to the two issues before the board: the above-ground parking garage and the retail uses on the roof deck. Steve Cobb, a lawyer in Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s office, also testified that Johnson is opposed to the project in its current form. Read more »
Temple University’s new main library as it will appear from a new campus green to be built across 13th Street from it. All renderings | Snøhetta
As the huge hole taking up almost an entire half city block in the center of the Temple University campus attested, ground had long since been broken for the construction of the university’s new main library. But even though this afternoon’s formal groundbreaking was strictly for the benefit of the assembled dignitaries, onlookers and media, it was nonetheless fraught with significance, for as all who spoke at the event noted, Temple’s new library is a groundbreaking project in just about every way. Read more »
This 45-unit development will rise at 5th and Thompson streets in South Kensington. | Rendering: Harman Deutsch Architecture via Frankel Management and Streamline Solutions
While the Techadelphia project is working its way through the permitting pipeline, the partnership of Sean Frankel’s Frankel Management Company and Sean Schellinger’s Streamline Solutions will have another South Kensington project with a community component to keep them occupied.
Ground was broken Friday (April 8) on a new 45-unit residential development at 5th and Thompson streets that will also contain retail space and a neighborhood amenity when complete. Read more »
The Civic Design Review panel was as critical of Bart Blatstein’s revised proposal as its neighbors have been of the original. Perhaps he should go back to the drawing board? | Rendering: Cope Linder Architects
Residents of Northern Liberties can recount the long, drawn-out process that transformed what might have been a strip mall into Bart Blatstein’s most highly praised development, The Piazza at Schmidt’s.
Blatstein might want to consider pursuing that same involved path now if he is serious about creating a truly transformative project at Broad Street and Washington Avenue, for it’s clear that no one is really satisfied with what he is now proposing.
The latest group to register its discontent is the Civic Design Review committee, which took up Blatstein’s slightly revised proposal for 1001 South Broad yesterday. A story in The Philadelphia Inquirer captured that group’s general sentiment in the words of its chair, Nancy Rogo Trainer: “If this is the best you can do to improve this scheme, in my mind I’d go back to the drawing board.” Read more »
Architect’s cutaway rendering of the new Design Within Reach showroom at East Market | Image from D Form A (DFA)
An interior designer I recently had the pleasure to meet hails from Italy but has resided in the United States for well over a decade now. Nonetheless, one aspect of American urban commerce mystifies him: the tendency for similar businesses to cluster in identifiable districts in our large cities.
Apparently, there’s no Garment District in Milan, no Jewelers’ Row in Rome. That’s actually a shame if true, for districts like these offer distinct advantages for both merchants and shoppers alike. For shoppers, these clusters provided an easy means of comparison shopping long before the Internet came along. Merchants were assured more of the people passing their stores were interested in what they had to sell. And the businesses could more easily gain knowledge and trade insights with one another while keeping up the competition.
Both Jewelers’ Row in Center City and Fabric Row on South Fourth Street have survived for more than a century because of these advantages. Now it looks like a new trade hub is about to join them. Read more »
Curtis J. Moody, founder of Moody Nolan (photo via Temple University)
Temple University has hired the architecture firm of Moody Nolan to design the proposed on-campus football stadium, as well as new retail that would be constructed alongside it.
“Moody Nolan is regarded as a national leader in designing beautiful sports and recreation facilities that not only fit their purpose but also fit the communities in which they exist,” Temple President Neil D. Theobald said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with such an outstanding architectural firm.” Read more »