Pier 9

The fate of Pier has been in the latest discussions at the DRWC board meetings.  According to a new Delaware River Waterfront Corporation feasibility study it would take about $3.5 million to stabilize the structure of Pier 9 to prevent further deterioration, and an additional $1.2 million to add emergency egress, public restrooms, a new roof and other items necessary for regular public use.  The board must first decide whether to make the initial investment to stabilize the structure, and if so how much more work it wants to do alone or with other public or private partners.

The 33,000-square foot space with over 20 foot high ceilings and clearstory windows is used as a garage and storage space for DRWC.  Last year it was used for Philly Fringe's Festival event.  With an expense of just over $11 million, the facility could become a "highly flexible, programmable space" utilized to its full potential, according to the report compiled by consultant Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.  the study identified a list of potential uses, including art exhibits, performance space, bowling alleys, winter or other gardens, rock climbing, farmers markets and restaurants.

The study says that the $3.5 million stabilization of the 93-year-old structure "will reinforce the pier's existing concrete deck and steel superstructure, while restoring the elegant concrete head houses at its east and west ends.  Elements whose condition is beyond compare are the roof, roof deck, monitor windows and side doors.  They will be removed, exposing the sheds structure's beautiful steel trusses.  Completing the work to this phase alone would turn the pier from a liability to an asset and allow DRWC "to aggressively market the building for potential private funding/investment," the study says.


Town Home Development on Front Street near Delaware Avenue

Developer David Perlman plans to make his mark on The Delaware Ave. construction scene with a proposed town home development he has for 412 N. Front Street in Old City.   Perlman told city planners Tuesday that he hopes to build a 38-unit townhouse development with green roofs, outdoor space for each unit, and a mix of surface-lot and garage parking.

Front and Willow Street

Units would have 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths and range in size from 1,700 to 1,900 square feet.  Most would be three stories tall, with the exception of two "carriage house" developments that would have ground level floors, to allow access to parking in the interior of the project.  The parking garage will rest up against an I-95 ramp at the corner of Front and Willow Streets.

Old proposal of World Trade Center site near Willow St.

Project architect Jose Hernandez said the town houses will be faced with stone, brick and two colors of fiber cement.  Landscaped areas will include an interior courtyard and private green space for each unit, and also street trees and planters.  Units will have views of the Delaware River and Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

Nicetown II Project Approval

The Philadephia City Planning Commission approved last week the planned Nicetown Court II development on Germantown Avenue.  Co-developers Nicetown Community Development Corporation and Kenneth Gamble's Universal Companies plan for 50 units of affordable rental housing, and three retail centers.  The project is in partnership with the Nicetown Court I  that was finished last fall.  The lots to be developed are 4428-70 Germantown Ave., 4413-51 Germantown Ave., and 4428 Uber St., near the Wayne Junction SEPTA station.

Nicetown Court II will be a combination of two, three and four-bedroom units, with about 5,200 feet of commercial space located near the transit station. The projects sit adjacent to the newly designated Wayne Junction Industrial Historic District, tying together the neighborhood and fostering a new sense of community and revived identity.


St. Boniface Redevelopment

New Development at St. Boniface faces zoning crises that could stop future plans to build a multifamily development on the site. Seventh District Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez and the Norris Square Civic Association are dueling over the fate of this major community development that NSCA has already put in motion.

Norris Square Civic Association is a community group with many titles: affordable housing developers, community development corporation, and neighborhood organizers around issues of affordability, and safety.  NSCA bought the st. Bonifice campus – a church, school, rectory, and convent– from the Archdiocese in 2007, a year after the parish merged with Visitation B.V.M.

NSCA plans to create a mixed-use community hub at St. Boniface.  The former school will remain an alternative high school, the rectory will be NSCA's offices and a computer lab, and the assembly building will become a community center and small-business incubator.  The most contentious aspect has been the demolition of St. Boniface Church and convent, reduced to rubble making way for the development of 15 limited-equity housing co-ops.  Last month Councilwoman Quinones-Sanchez introduced legislation to rezone the blocks surrounding Norris Square to preclude multi-family housing development.  The change could make it harder for NSCA to build limited-equity co-op housing at St. Boniface.


Ridge Flats

Planned development at the former Rivage site in East Falls continues to evolve with a name change and updated designs to maximize the community's natural light and green space.  Tim McDonald of Onion Flats updated residents on the latest plans for 4324 Ridge Avenue.  Onion Flats hopes to receive formal developer designation from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority in June to proceed with its plan for 123 apartments and several retail spaces on the 1.7-acre site at Calumet Street.

Now called Ridge Flats, synonymous with Onion Flats' other projects, the projects footprint has shifted from clusters of one- and two- bedroom apartment groupings, to a main U-shaped building with a smaller free-standing strip of apartments in the middle.  There are also now three-bedroom units included, with the largest at about 1,200 square feet.  The overall amount of retail space is up slightly, from 8,700 to 9,000 square feet, but the units will be smaller and flexible.

The new configuration allows for a larger central green space in which residents can garden, spend time outside and otherwise interact.  For the public, The patio area and rain garden fronting Kelly Drive, meant to draw foot and bike traffic up from the riverfront, remains unchanged.

Reception among East Falls residents and the EFCC has been generally positive despite expressed misgivings about aesthetics.  McDonald says design details are still works in progress.  The design is meant to maximize natural light, because the apartments aren't built on a central hallway with units on either side, they have windows on more than one facade.  Cut-throughs that extend vertically through the five-story buildings will provide interior light, key to keeping the complex completely energy self-sufficient.