South Kensington OKs Techadelphia Zoning Variance

The vote at Wednesday's South Kensington Community Partners zoning meeting was overwhelmingly in favor of the project, says the developer.

1525 North American Street

The “Techadelphia” project cleared an important hurdle last night when South Kensington residents voted to support its developer’s request for a zoning variance. Rendering | Harman Deutsch Architecture

Developer Sean Frankel’s request for a zoning variance for his proposed “Techadelphia” mixed-use live/work tech startup hub was approved this week by South Kensington residents who attended the South Kensington Community Partners zoning meeting.

The variance allows Frankel Management Company, the lead developer on the project that includes partner Streamline Solutions, to include residential structures on land zoned exclusively for industrial use. The residences, he explained, are crucial to making his vision of a free co-working space for young tech entrepreneurs work.

“We got overwhelming support. The vote was 27 to 3 in favor of our project,” Frankel said. Building size and parking were the reasons the three who voted against the request did so, he added.

Frankel then went on to note that none of the parking being included in this project would have been required if the site were to house only a factory, and that city requirements for parking in residential developments of this size call for only a 30 percent ratio of spaces to dwelling units. The ratio for Techadelphia will be 60 percent.

“Even the three who voted against it praised us for the job creation,” Frankel said.

Next stop for “Techadelphia”: the Philadelphia City Planning Commission. Because the project contains more than 50,000 square feet of usable space, it must undergo Civic Design Review; the review is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday, February 2nd, in the Planning Commission hearing room at 1515 Arch Street. The Zoning Board of Adjustment will hear the variance request later in February.