Broad & Washington: Anatomy of an Unvote

Northwest lot of Broad and Washington | Image via Google Street View

This lot at the northwest corner of Broad and Washington will remain empty at least one week longer than it otherwise might have because of the need to observe protocol. | Image via Google Street View

Since we’re sure many of you following the saga of 1001 South Broad, Bart Blatstein’s megaproject at the northeast corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue, are still scratching your heads wondering how it was that the Zoning Board of Adjustment voted on Blatstein’s request for special exceptions, then undid its action, we have an explanation for you courtesy of Department of Licenses and Inspections press spokesperson Karen Guss.

It seems that the vote-unvote was a byproduct of an admirable effort on the part of the ZBA to get the flow of appeals moving more expeditiously. Read more »

Johnson Calls for Construction Moratorium at Broad & Washington

West elevation

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 »

City Board Approves Blatstein Project, Then Says Nevermind

1001 South Broad

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 »

ZBA Wants Time to Digest Blatstein Proposal

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

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 »

A Simple Fix That Could Make Life Easier for Bart Blatstein at Broad and Washington

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

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 »

Blatstein Redesign Answers One CDR Objection…

Will an open stairway lure visitors to the rooftop shopping village at 1001 South Broad any more than an enclosed one would? Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

Will an open stairway lure visitors to the rooftop shopping village at 1001 South Broad any more than an enclosed one would? Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

No sooner had we reported that it was “back to the drawing board” for Bart Blatstein’s proposed mixed-use development at 1001 South Broad Street in Hawthorne than drawings came back from the drawing board.

The revised design from Cope Linder Architects that he will submit for a second round before the Civic Design Review Panel on April 5 looks exactly like the one that left the panel somewhat skeptical about its pedestrian enticements when he appeared before the panel on March 2—with one big exception and one less noticeable change. Read more »

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

broad-and-washington-showdown-940x540

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. Read more »

Former Inquirer Building To Be Rezoned

The former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St.

The former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad St.

The City Planning Commission passed a vote on Tuesday to rezone three Center City properties. Bills to rezone the former Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad, the Philadelphia School District Headquarters and a parking lot owned by the Community College of Philadelphia at 15th and Hamilton were recommended by the Committee, PlanPhilly reports. Read more »

Hawthorne Residents Blast Blatstein Proposal Again

West elevation

The west elevation of the revised Blatstein mixed-use project. Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

When the revised plans for Bart Blatstein’s mixed-use residential/retail development at the northeast corner of Broad and Washington were made public in a Civic Design Review submission, we predicted that the residents of Hawthorne would be no happier with one 32-story tower than they were with two.

We called that accurately: at the February 25 Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition zoning meeting, just about every near and not-so-near neighbor beat up on Blatstein for insisting on a tall apartment tower still. But that wasn’t the only thing they didn’t like about the project. In fact, just about every aspect of the proposal came in for criticism, and the criticism also revealed areas in which the residents, many of whom have lived in the neighborhood for years, share the concerns of newer urban advocates regarding this site and areas where they part company.

Read more »

Blatstein Revises Broad and Washington Proposal

West elevation

The west elevation of the revised Blatstein mixed-use project. Rendering | Cope Linder Architects

Developer Bart Blatstein’s proposal for a mixed-use residential/retail megaproject at the northeast corner of Broad and Washington, which Philadelphia Inquirer architecture Inga Saffron bemoaned as a “bloated, auto-centric” big-box behemoth in her column of last Friday, has undergone some cosmetic surgery on its way to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The latest iteration of Blatstein’s proposed development appears in the form of a Civic Design Review submission, required because of the proposed project’s size; at the time Saffron wrote her column, the designs had not been released to the public. Read more »

« Older Posts