Morning Headlines: Huge Crowd at Center City Residents Meeting About Dranoff Tower

Last night was the Center City Residents Association (CCRA) meeting about the proposed One Riverside Park, colloquially known as Dranoff Tower, that would sit on the Schuylkill in Fitler Square. News of the project broke a few weeks ago in Inga Saffron’s Changing Skyline column, in which she pointed out that there will be significant challenges ahead for Dranoff and architects Cecil Baker + Partners.

That may have been an understatement. Before the meeting, the CCRA released a statement that clearly explained how the project–a 21-story mixed-use building on a currently vacant parking lot at 25th and Manning–conformed to the Association’s neighborhood plan. There was good news and bad news:

The good news:

In keeping with the Association’s neighborhood plan, the ground floor will contain, in addition to a lobby, approximately 1,000 square feet devoted to an active use – a café or other commercial operation located adjacent to railroad crossing entrance to the Schuylkill Trail.

The plan calls for 54 underground and 32 ground floor parking spaces and 45 bike parking spaces. Studios and one and two bedroom units will occupy floors 3 through 18, with three 2-story penthouse units on floors 19-20. Corner units above the 4th floor will have balconies.

The bad news:

Contrary to the Association’s neighborhood plan, the above ground parking spaces are not wrapped with an active use such as residential or commercial. Cars will enter and exit on 25th St. near Locust St, while all loading and unloading will occur in an enclosed area on the south side of the project. The building includes a terrace, fitness center, game room, club room and a green roof.

Meanwhile, the Friends of Schuylkill River Park sent out an email to its members enumerating concerns that had been voiced thus far:

the scale, size, and massing, of the building,
the materials of the façade that will face the Community Garden,
the spaces programmed in the new building adjacent to the Community Garden edge of the Park.

The email also read:

The Board of the Friends of Schuylkill River Park cannot endorse a development of this size without better understanding the project’s attributes and its impact on the Park-especially the Community Gardens.

Both groups urged attendance at the meeting, as did the makers of this flier, who obviously had an especially pointed perspective:

The meeting got a very large turnout with lots of opposition, tweeted Saffron. This morning, PlanPhilly summarized the key objections made there, which included:

Its 21 stories are too many, said some. Its 84 parking spaces are too few, said others. Though architect Cecil Baker said he felt it was his responsibility to keep the “view shed” open to the river by designing a narrow facade facing east and west, some residents feel the sheer scale of the building will degrade the character of the neighborhood and the experience of the riverfront trail.

There are also serious zoning issues surrounding the project, which is seen as benefitting from a loophole or mistake. But perhaps best to leave that to the zoning experts at PlanPhilly. For more on the whole shebang:

By-right proposal for Dranoff tower in Fitler Square draws ire of near neighbors [PlanPhilly]

So what else is new?

• Boot and Saddle is opening on Sept. 9 as a 150-person capacity live music destination with 60-seat bar and restaurant, report our friends at Foobooz.
• Colosimo’s gun shop, home of straw purchases and city government negligence, is now a very cool bike store as profiled in the Daily News
• More talk about the ugliness of Home2Suites from Next City: New Philly Hotel Gets Both Economic Development and Design Wrong
• And yet more talk about the ugliness of Home2Suites from Hidden City: Painfully Ugly, But Does It Matter?