Developers of the “Divine Lorraine of South Philly” Told to Try Again

Google Street View

Google Street View

The city’s Civic Design Review committee may not have a whole lot of  power to throw around, but the little weight it does have is certainly enough to put a wrench in plans. No one knows that better than Priderock Capital Partners (who were ordered to build a, quote, “great goddamn building” in Old City last month) and, now, The Concordia Group, the firm looking to demolish the “Divine Lorraine of South Philly” and replace it with 95 townhomes.

According to PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey, the Maryland-based developer is just a permit away from razing the long-vacant Mt. Sinai Hospital building at 400 Reed Street, which has been shuttered since 1997. Tuesday, however, saw the Civic Design Review vote in favor of having the group return in September for a second presentation with updated designs. We recommend you read Brey’s article in full to hear the design points that gave the committee pause, among them too narrow sidewalks and “half-hearted” rain gardens, but here’s a snippet:

The Committee said the project should be more welcoming to bikers and pedestrians, even with its 134 parking spaces. Some committee members suggested it was too many houses, with too much square footage, for the property. The development team argue that the density roughly matches that of most other South Philly blocks.

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South Philly ReStore to Get Two-Day Grand Opening with “Fun Day” Events

940 x 540 - restore-rendering copy

Image via Habitat for Humanity Philadelphia blog

Its celebratory, two-part introduction to Point Breeze isn’t the only reason for why you should be getting pumped about the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 2318 Washington Avenue. Real estate-wise, the 17,000-square-foot facility is anticipated to be a little gold nugget that will add to the neighborhood in more ways than one.

Indeed, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, who is set to discuss economic development along Washington Avenue and the jobs this particular store will bring during tomorrow’s ribbon-cutting, believes the new South Philadelphia ReStore is “sure to be so much more than a great new place to shop in Point Breeze.”

In addition to occupying a previously vacant building and potentially stimulating more economic activity on the avenue, the ReStore will offer locals a place to donate gently-used home goods and acquire low-cost building materials, while also furthering Habitat’s mission of providing affordable housing to those who need it. All proceeds from the store will go “towards the building and repairing of homes,” said Greenberger, per a press release.

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

Royal-Theater-mural-with-2-female-african-american-singers

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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ZBA Doesn’t Bite Request for Proposed Apts. Across Pat’s King of Steaks

Canno Architecture + Design | Renderings courtesy of Paul Mirabello

Canno Architecture + Design | Renderings courtesy of Paul Mirabello

Despite making some compromises to make his proposed mixed-use apartment complex across from Pat’s King of Steaks as appetizing to neighbors as possible, developer Paul Mirabello was on the losing end of the Zoning Board’s decision on Wednesday: they unanimously voted in favor of denying a zoning variance that would have allowed the project to move forward, reports the Inquirer’s Maria Panaritis.

What will happen with the vacant lot now that Mirabello’s plan has been removed from the table? For the moment, residents who opposed the development are just reveling in their win:

“I’m super-excited,” said Robert Stewart, 35, among a handful of residents who pleaded during the two-hour meeting to allow only single-family homes on the large lot at Ninth and Wharton Streets. “I feel like my voice actually mattered.”

“It made me feel better to see there’s still some justice in the city of Philadelphia,” [Gil] Lettieri said. “The Zoning Board of Adjustment did that for me today.”

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Headlines: Important Zoning Overlay Bill For South Philly to Meet Council Today

The vacant lot on northeast corner of Broad and Washington. | Photo via Google Street View.

The vacant lot on northeast corner of Broad and Washington. | Photo via Google Street View.

A bill that would create a zoning overlay called the South Broad Street Gateway will be introduced to City Council later today, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports. The bill’s purpose? To pave the way for the project developer Bart Blatstein has in store for the northeast corner of Broad and Washington.

Yes, you read that correctly. There’s finally an update of note regarding the proposed mixed-use complex we last heard had called for two residential towers and a retail component. Blatstein has since refined his plans to include 1,600 units in the both towers and 180,000 square feet of retail space. According to Brey, both structures would rise to 30 stories, while the site as whole would be surrounded by “three-story retail storefronts and restaurants, with a mess of parking in the middle of the property.”

Councilman Johnson’s aide, Steve Cobb, was quoted as say the project could potentially start moving along in the fall.

Meanwhile, some folks aren’t happy with the new protected bike lines in Northeast Philly…

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Touring Cambodia in Philadelphia

Beef Ceviche at I ♥︎ Cambodia

Beef Ceviche at I ♥︎ Cambodia

Joy Manning writes about Philadelphia’s “Cambodia Town,” the area of South Philadelphia that’s home to Khmer Kitchen and many other authentic Cambodian flavors.

On sunny weekend afternoons, in the shadow of an ornate, golden Buddhist temple, Mifflin Square in South Philadelphia is dotted with charcoal grills, chile-lacquered chicken wings, and thin-sliced fatty beef heavily seasoned with lemongrass sputtering over the coals. Women pound chilies, garlic, and dried shrimp to a paste to season the snappy unripe papaya for the lime-drenched salads they sell to passersby.

Read Manning’s entire piece and then start planning your Cambodian adventure, right here in Philadelphia.

Carving an official Cambodia Town out of South Philadelphia [Philadelphia Inquirer]

Spotted in South Philly: Phase II reNewbold Homes Now Available

reNewbold Phase II rendering | Image courtesy of At Media

reNewbold Phase II rendering | Image courtesy of At Media

The 2013 groundbreaking of its first phase long behind us, Phase II is now set in motion at reNewbold, the first LEED Platinum-certified sustainable housing development in South Philadelphia: homes are available. (Hm, maybe be quick lest they go like hotcakes!)

Unfolding over at 16th and Moore, the latest stage of the project developed by John Longacre’s LPMG Companies involves the construction of energy efficient homes in Philly’s Newbold neighborhood, seven of which are rowhomes and two of which are condos with retail space. Groundbreaking for this second phase took place last September, right after Phase I was completed and homes sold out. Construction of the Phase II homes is expected to finish this summer. (Again, quick!)

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HOG Tour Hits South Philadelphia on Thursday

A very important photo of a bear holding the Hammer of Glory

A very important photo of a bear holding the Hammer of Glory

In case you missed The Hammer of Glory (HOG) pub crawl in March, you can join the #HOGTour in South Philly on Thursday, Apr. 30.

The crawl will be led by Grand Marshal Curt Decker of the currently relocating Nodding Head Brewery (leading a South Philly bar crawl, hmmmmm), and will travel around East Passyunk Avenue from 6-10pm, beginning at Taproom on 19th. Other stops include South Philadelphia Tap Room, Pub on Passyunk East, and Devil’s Den, “plus craft beer specials and other surprises along the way at the whim of The HOG.

If you can’t make this one, have no fear: there is one more crawl on Thursday, May 28 in the Fishtown/ Northern Liberties neighborhood (which is the night before Philly Beer Week officially begins on Friday, May 29.)

Check out more about Philly Beer Week here.

Opening Soon: Mercer Cafe In The Navy Yard

First Tacconelli's pizza out of the Navy Yard pizza oven.

First Tacconelli’s pizza out of the Navy Yard pizza oven.

Mercer Cafe, the small, beloved Port Richmond eatery, is expanding to the Navy Yard at 15th Street and Kitty Hawk.

The new location will have its grand opening on May 1, offering their breakfast and lunch menu, along with La Colombe Coffee, a grab-and-go market and lunch delivery.

What’s even more exciting is co-owner Dina Woltjen and her brother Vincent Tacconelli have decided to merge their businesses under one roof. The new Mercer Cafe will serve the famous Tacconelli’s pies, with their own brick oven in the cafe.

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