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

The Concordia Group will have to present their updated designs in early September.

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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.

The tweaking and coming back a month from now request was cause for minor panic on the developer’s part, as Concordia attorney Ron Patterson said the hold up could be “fatal” to the project. Regardless of this, Brey reports architect and CDR committee panelist Cecil Baker insisted the current proposal is “supremely ungenerous” with the community. He did, however, express faith in the group:

“I trust you,” Baker responded. “You represent the classiest of developers, bar none. Sit down with your designers and try to do better.”