2.0 University Place

Developers University Place Associates have landed a tenant large enough to jump start construction of a $30 million office building at 30 N. 41st Street in Powelton village.  It will be the first L.E.E.D. Platinum Pre-Certified Building in Philadelphia.  The process of landing a tenant has been ongoing for nearly 3 years.  University Place Associates will break ground in December on a five-story, 97,000-square-foot building and serves as new office construction.

The Citizenship and Immigration Services signed a 15-year lease on 53,000 square feet valued at $26 million.  The immigration agency is currently housed at 1600 Callowhill St.  They want to be a community based processing center, and relocating to West Philadelphia is part of that mission.  It will house CIS' district office, which covers Pennsylvania, a field office for the eastern part of Pennsylvania and serves as an application support center.  About 142 employees will work out of the new space.

Currently a 15,000-square-foot lease with a private company is being negotiated and the brokers are confident the remainder of the space, from about 30,000 square feet to more than 40,000 will fill up


Philadelphia's First LGBT Affordable Senior Housing

The Dr. Magnus Herschfeld Fund, an LGBT advocacy group, and Pennrose Properties, a local development and property management firm have teamed up to build the William Way Senior Residences at 249-257 S. 13th Street.  They hope to begin construction of Philadelphia's first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender- friendly affordable senior housing this fall.

The project took a big step forward with a unanimous passing by city council of a resolution introduced by first district councilman Mark Squilla authorizing the city's Redevelopment Authority to sell the property to the development team for about $1.5 million.  The building was previously used as a storage facility by RDA.

This process is a major step for the Philadelphia LGBT community, notes gay rights activist Mark Segal, dhmf Board President.  Segal explained, while there are many demographic studies on seniors in Jewish, African American, Protestant and a host of other communities, there aren't many on gay seniors.  "It's a new frontier, "he said. "But what we've seen in city after city after city is that LGBT people have the same problems as anybody else.  So what we're doing is creating a community for elderly LGBT people where they can feel safe, secure and grow old, and have a very decent form of life.

The 56-apartment project will cost $19.1 million.  This includes purchasing the property, tearing down the existing warehouse and constructing the six story building.  All 56 apartments will be one-bedroom units. the ground floor will have 1,800 sq feet of commercial space.  Some of the spacew may be available for community purposes like a theater.  The goal is to have the building completed by the end of 2013


Old Trenton Ave Police Station

Construction renovations continue over at the old Trenton Ave police station.  Most of the interior floors and walls have been replaced and almost all windows except those prone to vandalism have been replaced.  The project will likely see completion by late summer / fall of 2012.  The has always been a beautiful building with tons of character.  There was a for sale sign out front for years, it was only a matter of time before the right developer saw her potential.  The corner commercial retail space will likely go to a local Bank, giving the desolate corner some added daytime life.  Hopefully someone will buy out the horse stable across the street and turn the unique triangular lot into beautiful apartments, possible name "stable house" , "Barn Lofts", "Trenton Stables", or "the Horse Shoe".  Just a thought.  Someone Please Develop that site. Do those poor horses a favor and encourage the owners to move them to more sanitary and healthy quarters.

Norris Point

New Construction is underway at the corner of Trenton Ave. and E. Norris Street.The property was sold by The Somers Team, but no sure if the are in fact also the developers of the property.  The project plans for 10 modern 3 bedroom town homes with 2.5 bathrooms and private off-street parking.  The project also features roof decks with skyline views, completed full basements and rear patios.  New Home buyer can also take advantage of a Ten Year tax abatement.

The Modern design of the house seems typical of the new construction in the Fishtown, Kensington area, but it does appear more throughout and original than the new rentals homes recently completed next door lining Trenton Avenue.

Mid-rise Development at foot of Ben Franklin Bridge

Finally after almost 10 years since the last proposal a new development is planned for the large vacant lot adjacent to the north side of the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Owners, Ensemble Real Estate previously proposed a development called Marina View Tower, which was going to be a high-rise.  It is now set to be a mid-rise, more than 120 feet tall, slightly shorter than the stone pier of the bridge at 11 stories.

While shorter than it previously was, the apartment building is higher than the 100-foot height limit called for in the draft of the Central Delaware Zoning Overlay.  Ensemble Real Estate has applied under the terms of the current zoning code, and so it needs no variances.

The proposed building would be a "giant L" along Delaware Avenue and Vine.  Parking would be behind the L, and not visible from Delaware Avenue.  Because the development is in a flood plain the builder has proposed a five-foot retaining wall, to help meet a zoning code requirement.


City to River Connections Underway

The city is continuing progress on better connections to the waterfront with three major focus projects currently in the planning phase and nearing construction of continuous phases.  These project will tackle improved pedestrian and bicycle access, lighting, landscaping and signage.  The three focal corridors are Race Street Connector, Columbia Avenue Connector and Spring Garden Street Connector.

Race Street is the project that's farthest along, with the south side portion of the project already completed.  Planning for phase II is underway, and it's been considerably more complicated.  PennDOT and the city's transportation and utilities department have agreed that a multi-purpose sidewalk/bike path can cross over the I-95 on ramp that compromises the project.  Perhaps a traffic light will solve the problem.

Design work for the underpass section of the Columbia Avenue Connector, which will link Fishtown to the waterfront, has been completed by Studio Bryan Hanes.  Designs have been given to PennDOT, but due to a long bidding process it will take 18 months to 2 years before we see any changes.  The design includes LED lighting and decorative imprint in the concrete.  Underpasses at nearby Marlborough and Shackamaxon streets will get the same treatment. The section of Columbia between highway and Penn Treaty Park includes landscaping and a public art component.

Spring Garden Street, connecting Northern Liberties to the waterfront.  Discussions have been ongoing concerning placement of bike lanes as well as the crucial redesign of the entry ways and egress to the subway station. Redesign is crucial to the success of the connector as well as nearby future development, including plans to attract mixed-use development to the Festival Pier at the foot of Spring Garden.