Thursday, April 26, 2012

Diamond Green Apartments Rise near Temple Campus

Mosaic Development is building the $30 million Diamond Green project - a five-story, LEED-certified, 92-unit modular apartment complex - to house 350 students. The mixed-use project near Temple University will include 26,000-square-foot of retail space.

Gregory Reaves and Leslie Smallwood-Lewis stood at the window of a third-floor unit at Diamond Green Apartments just as a SEPTA commuter train pulled away from Temple University Station, bound for Center City.

“See,” Reaves, said, smiling. “You couldn’t hear the train, could you? That’s solid construction.”

Undergrads are not known for adhering to a vow of silence, leading many property owners to shun them. Reaves and Smallwood-Lewis believe, however, that quiet surroundings and proximity to the Temple campus will quickly fill their five-story, 92-unit building with 350 paying students.

Together, the two are Mosaic Development Partners, a West Philadelphia firm best known for its January 2011 acquisition of the Blue Horizon boxing arena on North Broad Street for an $20 million hotel-and-restaurant complex with a jazz bar and fitness center.

Former employees of the Goldenberg Group, they also are turning the old Thomas Edison High School at Seventh Street and Lehigh Avenue into 38,000 square feet of retail space.
[See Philadelphia | Blogger, 4/24/12]

For the Diamond Green complex, Mosaic is collaborating with Orens Brothers, developers also involved in the Blue Horizon, and Metamorphosis Community Development Corp., a nonprofit founded in 2005 to represent the interests of the African American neighborhoods surrounding Temple.

Metamorphosis was instrumental in assembling the 0.9-acre site at 10th and Diamond Streets. Orens Bros., in business since 1979, redeveloped 2200 Arch, 444 North Fourth, and the Pitcairn Building into condominiums and apartments.

The $30 million, 126,000-square-foot mixed-use Diamond Green project, with 26,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, is being financed with a construction loan from Fox Chase Bank and Third Federal Bank, with $7 million in private equity and $750,000 from the city Office of Housing and Community Development’s affordable-housing support program.

 Construction, which began immediately after ground breaking in late-November, is expected to be completed in mid-August.  Eventually, buildings on a site between the apartment building and Norris Street will be razed and affordable housing built in its place.

Diamond Green is the latest addition to revitalization of the neighborhood east of Broad Street. Final additions are being made to the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Norris Apartments along 11th Street west of Diamond Green.

That 51-unit low-rise complex, designed by architects Blankney Hayes, is on the site of the old Norris Homes high-rise and is the first PHA project to be LEED-certified, with roofs crowned with solar panels.

Designed by Wulff Architects, Diamond Green is unusual for several reasons, and is the largest modular project thus far in Philadelphia.

A total of 106 self-contained modules, each weighing about 50,000 pounds and complete with construction materials, fixtures, and furniture, are being lifted into place by crane.

The modules, built in the Middleburg, Pa., factory of Professional Building Systems, are linked into mostly four-bedroom/two-bathroom units with furnished kitchens, offices, and common living-room areas. Every floor has a card-operated laundry room, eliminating the need for sacks full of quarters.