New Family Court Building May Come Sooner Than You Thought?

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Pennsylvania Department of General Services paid $1.1 million for the air rights over a parcel at 15th and Arch streets in Center City where the new family court building will eventually be constructed.  This, clearing the way for construction of the controversial $200 million project to begin within weeks.  Construction will start with a 3 story underground parking garage followed by a 14-story building.

The air rights were bought from Northwest 15th Street Associates, the former developer of the family court.  The purchase of the air rights also completes a complex bankruptcy settlement that will allow the department to move forward with constructing the courthouse using architectural plans commissioned by the First Judicial District and paid for with $7 million from the Family Court Facility fund, according to a statement released by the general services department.


Drexel's Master Plan Revisited

I wrote a few months ago about Drexel University's big expansion and neighborhood revitalization plan.  Here is a better view inside the 8 year master plan.

Reinforcing Market Street As The Heart Of Campus
Construction projects on the northern edge of Market Street will center more activity in this key area and further Drexel's presence in West Philadelphia.  This shift, which began with the renovation of Van Rensselaer Hall, the move of administrative functions to 3201 Arch Street, and the construction of the East and North Residence Halls, will provide a more even distribution of activity throughout the campus.  The conversion of the Armory into an athletic and convocation center also will help ensure a more even distribution of campus resources, as will potential dining outlets north of Market Street.

Strengthening Drexel's North/South Connections
Development along 30th, 32nd, 33rd, and 34th streets will enliven the Campus by enhancing linkages among its warious districts and strengthening connections with Drexel's University City neighborhood.

Enhancing Student Life
Adding retail establishments, outdoor seating areas, lighting, and greenery to the streetscape will invigorate the student experience, as will new residence halls and recreational spaces.

The closing of Race Street between 33rd and 34th Streets to auto traffic, creating a safe and green pedestrian link through campus.  The project is the first phase of an ambitious landscaping project to create a pedestrian mall and series of walks to connect the north residential portion of the campus to the academic core.  Phase one adds new trees, lighting and seating areas along Race Street to create a pedestrian and bicycle only east/west link between 33rd and 34th streets.

Architects: Pennoni Associates
Estimated Budget: $700,000

Papadakis Integrated Science Building
Architect: Diamond and Schmitt
Estimated Budget: $69,000,000

LeBow College of Business Expansion
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern with VMA
Estimated Budget: $92,000,000

Mixed-use Development at 1900 Arch Gets Ok From the Planning Commission

The proposed mixed-use development at 1900 Arch Street is one step closer to starting construction.  Developer Eric Blumenfeld hopes to begin construction as early as August or September.  The 170-foot complex will contain residential, retail, and office development. The proposal includes 236 apartments, nearly 10,000 square feet of office space, and two restaurants.

Blumenfeld said he had not reached community agreements with the Kennedy House condominiums residents association or the Logan Square association, and he planned to ask the ZBA for a continuance.  He predicted an agreement would be finished in weeks.  Representatives from Kennedy House and Logan Square Civic said agreements would likely be reached, but could take longer than that.  They are supportive of the project.


Great opportunities for Preservation-minded Developers

If you are in the market for turn of the century, 1920's, modernist, or Romanesque style civic buildings throughout the Philadelphia region then Preservation Alliance is your guy!  The Presevation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia has added a new feature, "Historic opportunities," on its website, http://www.preservationalliance.com/advocacy/historic-opportunities.php.  The page lists distinctive properties for sale across the region that need a preservation-conscious owner to rescue them.  The builder include some of the best architects in Philadelphia's history.  The sellers include the Philadelphia MIndustrial Development Corporation, the Nemours Foundation, Colliers International and other real estate agencies.

Among the properties are the University Club, built for an elite social group by Wilson Eyre in 1887 and listed for $1.7 million; Germantown Town Hall, designed by John P.B. Sinkler in 1923 for $400,000; Saint Peter's Episcopal Church of Germantown, designed by Furness & Hewitt in 1873, listed for $950,000; Engine House No. 29, 1221-25 North 4th St. in the Kensington South neighborhood, for $1 million.

Race Street Pier Is Open for Exploration!

A small step but huge accomplishment in implementing the Civic Vision for the Central Delaware was successfully executed last thursday on the waterfront. Race Street Pier is now here sporting contemporary landscaping and an interactive design, this premier park is a testament of what's to come!

The one-acre pier-park, formerly a commercial shipping berth that recently served as a parking lot, is an early project in the development of the Central Delaware into a welcoming urban place with continuous connections to center city and beyond.  The Delaware River waterfront Corp. is making incremental progress on providing public access to the river, with the creation of a no-frills, interim trail along the water's edge from Lombard to Tasker streets, and a pop-up park at Pier 53 south called the Washington Avenue Green.

Some factoids: Courtesy of Plan Philly
Trees:  The 37 large caliper Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor) trees were cultivated for four years at a nursery in Millstone, N.J for the World Trade Center Memorial at Ground Zero in New York City.

Grasses and Perennials:  Almost 10,250 individual 4 inch pots of shade tolerant grasses and perennials were planted in weathered steel planters to increase diversity and add texture, color and seasonal interest.

Lighting: The park’s setting under the Ben Franklin Bridge is spectacular at night; therefore the park was designed to be enjoyed in the evening as well as during the day with extensive lighting including 200 LED Solar Light Blocks embedded into the paving.

Paving: The paving on the upper level ramp is Trex, a sustainable synthetic decking material made out of reclaimed plastic and wood, representing one of the largest public installations of Trex decking in the country.

Railings:  The perimeter railing leans at a 65 degree angle towards the pier, further accentuating the forced one-point perspective of the ramp rising along the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Lights are incorporated into railing on the lower level.

Seating Steps: Tiered seating terraces link the upper and lower levels and create a destination at the end of the pier for viewing, gathering, and contemplation.

Wharf Drops: 2 wharf-drops on the lower level originally used to unload cargo for shipping were retrofitted and integrated into the new park.  They are covered with transparent metal grating and a portion of one has been left open for users to experience the river in an unusual and authentic way.

Fill:  Over 2,015 cubic yards of geofoam were used to form the sky promenade on the upper level.

Tides: The Delaware River is tidal, fluctuating an average of six feet in elevation a day.  At mean high water level, the lower level of the pier will be approximately 4.5 feet above the river, making the Race Street Pier one of rare places where you can get close to the water. The Race Street Pier is also a tidal register, where you can find out the forecast for high and low tides for the City of Philadelphia.

Hours: Race Street Pier will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. during the upcoming summer season. Park rules will prohibit the use of skateboards, skates or recreational scooters.  Motorized vehicles, commercial activity or solicitations, special events, assemblies, performances and amplified sound, as well as drinking alcohol will all require special permits.  Dogs will be required to be on a leash and owners will be asked to pick up after them.


2217 Sepviva; G8 Development

G8 Development renovates an old Fishtown corner store into a pimped out single family residence.  The small building is currently going through a complete renovation, maximizing the small footprint to suite the needs of eligible first time homeowners and anyone looking to live on a quaint corner adjacent to a beautiful neighborhood park.  Located at the corner of E. Fletcher and Sepviva Streets, the 2-bed room one bath town-home is conveniently located next to Konrad Square and just a 7 minute walk from the Market-Frankford Metro.  Toped off with a complete roof deck hosting amazing views of downtown Philadelphia and surrounding neighborhoods, the home will be built using recycled interior finishes and maximize its corner views providing plenty of natural sunlight throughout.

Developer: G8 Development
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Land Area: 432 sqft


Construction Update for G8's 2200 Amber Residence

2200 Amber is quickly going up, with just less than a month into construction framing is already complete with windows and doors installed.  The electric and HVAC systems are now being installed and integrated throughout the house.


G8 Development's 2400 Amber; Single Family New Construction

G8 Development has broken ground on yet another new project in New Kensington/ Fishtown.  Very similar to its neighbor at 2200 Amber, 2400 Amber will mirror the building branding the G8 image in a neighborhood teaming with development.  The 2 story residence designed in the progressive contemporary style, will feature sustainable construction methods and materials, as well as a fluid layout.

Concrete supports were poured a few weeks ago to support the neighboring house during construction.  The concrete base will be poured soon using insulated concrete forms (ICF) manufactured by GreenBlock.  The ICF method reduces the buildings carbon footprint by insulating the basement, allowing for more efficient heating and cooling of the home.

Photo Updates For 2200 N. Sydenham Apartment Building

Earlier this year we posted about a new project going up on Sydenham St. in North Philadelphia.  The building is to be rented out to Temple University Students, and from the looks at new renderings, developer Tom Webber seems to have a bit of "Owl Fever", decking the building out in school colors!  Check out the updates below.