Temple Area Neighborhood Improvement District Faces Challenges

A Neighborhood Improvement District was proposed by Councilman Darrell Clark's office for the area of North Philadelphia neighboring Temple University from Girard Avenue north to York Street, and from 15th Street west to 19th Street.  Clarks's office proposed the NID to combat the symptoms of the student-housing boom in the area.  An outright band on student housing was considered but questionable legality stopped those plans.  The District was proposed in response to increasing complaints from community residents about Temple-student housing in the neighborhood.

The NID would impose a tax increase on constituents, and the revenue from which would be put toward extra safety and cleaning services.  Ironically, the bill is supported by the people who are paying into it, the rental property owners, and opposed by the residents who would reap its benefits for free- owner occupants.  Owner-occupants whose homes will not be subject to the fee, don't have the opportunity to vote against the bill.  PlanPhilly reports that several longtime community residents testified at a hearing two weeks ago that they opposed the NID not because they don't want extra cleaning and safety services in their neighborhood, but because they are being left out of the process.

Because people don't fully understand what a NID is, this is why there is so much opposition.  Education and inclusion is key to making sure all affected residents feel respected and that they have value.  Click HERE for a definition and description of a Neighborhood Improvement District.  the City Council will be able to act on the bill after a 45-day period during which 51 percent of assessed property owners would have to vote against the NID in order to kill it,

Race Street Hotel Residential Property Up for Sale

In Old City near the mouth of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, developer Robert Ambrosi of Arc Properties plans to build a hotel/entertainment/retail complex.  This project included a residential building as well but the story is, the .67-acre site where the residences would stand is now up for sale.  Ambrosi had planned to eventually build a 60-unit residential building with ground floor retail.

Ambrosi says the new action is part of a refinancing agreement which also includes selling the lot on Fourth Street.  The listing with Cushman & Wakefield currently list the surface parking lot a "a multi-family and retail mixed-use redevelopment site."  The sites as-of-right zoning allows for development of an 80' high multifamily building on a 13,936 sf lot plus 14,768 sf of ground level in an adjacent 29,068 sf of existing structure.  The Hotel site however is not up for sale.

The sale could stand to be a positive move for the neighborhood, because it opens up the possibility of the residential portion being developed sooner the Ambrosi had planned.  The residential phase was actually in the 3rd phase of the project.  Ambrosi said he hopes to have the tenant issues with the hotel and commercial/entertainment spaces resolved in about 30 days, and plans to start construction before the end of the year.


Hotel Blue on Broad

The Freedom theater may soon get a new neighbor at the former sight of the Blue Horizon boxing venue on North Broad Street.  Mosaic Development Partners came a step closer on Tuesday to turning the site into a boutique hotel with restaurants and a jazz club.

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission Tuesday voted in support of zoning bill 120015, which would change the zoning of the site from C2 to C4 commercial, an adjustment needed to move the project forward.  Mosaic wants to change the historic mansion and other properties at 1314-16 North Broad  into an eight-story, 80-plus room hotel with event space, day spa, jazz club, and a restaurant with a distillery.

Commissioners are not pleased with the aesthetics of the building and hope that some changes can be made.  Many hoped that the historic preservation society had taken part in the use of the site.  The renderings are poor substitute to the beautiful 19th Century brown stone building, but this is Philadelphia, so be prepared for a flat wall with rectangular cut outs accompanied by a mural on its south side.  We can do much better than this "mosaic Development Partners"!!!!


Central Delaware Master Plan is Adopted!

Many have been waiting and anticipating the day a future is secured for Philadelphia's Premier Waterfront and it finally came.  The Philadelphia City Planning Commission unanimously adopted the Master Plan for the Central Delaware Waterfront in its entirety, Tuesday afternoon.  The new roadmap for the future of the waterfront is an ambitious plan, but very realistic.  The plan aims to reunite the city and the waterfront with a system of linked parks and extended city streets.  The Central Delaware Plan is now part of the city's comprehensive plan.  It must be considered by by any city governing body when making a waterfront decision.

CDAG and other fans of the plan say it will re-tie the city to the waterfront, create new recreational and green space and spur economic growth.  Many see the plan as a potential remedy to the paralysis caused by the creation of Interstate 95.  The plan's adoption will make it easier to raise money to make plan projects happen.  DRWC has already raised millions of dollars to implement public projects and will continue to do so in order to encourage and leverage private development of the waterfront.

The plan reconnects city neighborhoods to the waterfront by fostering connections along key streets that generally end in public space.  The series of public spaces, occurring about every half-mile, are linked to each other with a multi-purpose trail.  The plan calls for mixed use development, including residential, commercial and industrial.  View corridors to the water are preserved, and buildings are generally low and mid-rise in illustrations that occupy the plan.  The street grid is extended to the waterfront.