Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ten Skyline Altering Projects Coming to Center City (Part 1)

If you have ever been stuck in mid-day traffic, you know that Philadelphia construction is booming. The signs are everywhere, from exposed steel for super tall skyscrapers in Center City to large cranes for massive apartment complexes on the waterfront. But some of the city’s largest projects are still waiting to get underway. 

Here’s a list of skyline altering development taking place in and around Center City:

1121 feet


Cira Centre South (FMC Tower)     
730 feet


600 feet


615 feet


W Hotel and Residences
582 feet

1911 Walnut Street
525 feet & 200 feet


Market8 Casino
450 feet


Riverwalk Apartment Towers
446 feet, 220 feet, 220 feet


MIC Apartment Tower
429 feet


500 Walnut Street Condominiums
380 feet


Thursday, September 10, 2015

216-unit Apartment Complex Planned for 4th and Race Street

The City Planning Commission approved developer Priderock Capital Group’s proposal to build a 4-story, 216-unit apartment complex at 4th and Race streets in Old City, despite concerns raised by the Civic Design Review Committee.

The Civic Design Review Committee felt the design for 401 Race Street was overly suburban and not ambitious enough for the most historic acre in the United States.

The 216-unit residential complex will be bounded by 4th, 5th, Race, and Florist streets, just off of Independence Mall.

The site is on its own block, surrounded on various sides by historic Old City, the U.S. Mint, and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Developers had previously proposed building a controversial hotel project on the site.

“This building has to look like an important, civic-minded building… It has got to be a great goddamn building,” said Architectural Committee panelist Cecil Baker.

Nancy Rogo-Trainer, a commissioner and chair of the Civic Design Review Committee said, “The materials in particular are disappointing. It’s really kind of sad when someone building a block from Independence Mall thinks that standard brick is too deluxe a material, too expensive.”

Alan Greenberger, the commission chairman, said he didn’t have any problems with the two variances the developer is seeking, for height and loading.

He also said the prominence of the site may not be “what it’s cracked up to be,” given that the south side of the property faces a solid blank wall across Race Street.

Get more information about the project HERE.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Prepare for Two Major Housing Developments on North 5th Street

North 5th Street in Northern Liberties and South Kensington will soon begin to see an influx of new residents, thanks to construction of two major housing projects that were approved by The Philadelphia City Planning Commission earlier this summer.

At 626-636 North 5th Street, US Construction will be constructing 43 residential units with 33 parking spaces and a 1,200-square-foot retail space at the corner of 5th Street and Fairmount Avenue.

The project, designed by JKR Partners, would have a green central courtyard area and an internal drive lane for parking.

It involves mostly three-bedroom, three-bathroom, single-family homes, with five apartments above the retail space on the corner.

Click here to view plan details.

Just above the Girard Avenue trolley line at 1213-1241 North 5th Street, developer Sean Frankel is preparing to build out a long-vacant lot with 23 buildings housing 45 residential units.

Plans include a small commercial space at the corner of 5th and Thompson and a public dog park, to be maintained by the tenants, on Orkney Street, which runs southeast between Thompson and Lawrence streets.

The developers are planning to include 33 parking spaces.

Click here to view plan details.  

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission approved plans for both projects at the end of July.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

City Controller Uncovers Electrical Hazards at Philadelphia Schools

After conducting inspections at 20 city schools, the Philadelphia Office of the Controller discovered dangerous building conditions, including electrical and fire hazards. Meanwhile the department uncovered even more risks at 10 other newly inspected schools. The most recent review, which occurred in June 2015, revealed electrical risks, including exposed wires, at 70 percent of the inspected sites.

Three schools – George Washington High School, Bayard Taylor Annex and Dimner Beeber Middle School – had unlocked electrical closets, which have bus bars rated at 600 volts, the report said.

Another troubling discovery: an improperly encased asbestos pipe in the basement hallway at Francis Scott Key Elementary School.

Also 15 of the 20 school buildings reviewed have some type of fire hazard – missing exit signs, hallways blocked with objects or large items in front of fire exit doors, the Controller said.

All but one school had water damage.

Some of the more oft-putting findings included unsanitary and potentially sickening bathroom conditions at four schools – "toilets that appeared to have waste permanently in them" – and cockroaches milling about in a restroom at Central High School.

Butkovitz's office also said damaged masonry and walls, tripping hazards on school grounds, water drainage problems and structural issues were present at many of the 20 schools.

Of the 10 schools inspected in 2008, two are now operating out of different facilities, Samuel S. Fels High School and Juniata Park Elementary School. Despite the move to newer properties, both still had unsafe conditions.

“The School District needs to provide a safe, sanitary learning environment for everyone, including our great teachers who must endure these conditions daily,” said City Controller Alan Butkovitz in a statement.

Click here to view the full report