Developers PMC Property Group and designer Stephen Varenhorst met with the Civic Design Review committee for its second, and final, presentation to discuss the plans for their One Water Street proposal at the northern base of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Basically, if you read Inga Saffron's latest piece regarding this very project, you'd know it all boils down to the design and treatment of public space. Let's take a look at the sticking points! The committee wants to see improvements in the buildings facade, one Saffron compared to a "Miami-white apartment building" due to its symmetry and overall blah. Mainly though, it wants PMC and Varenhorst to better define the public space element on Columbus Boulevard. You know, the main reason they were granted a height bonus up to 170 feet. Currently, there is no retail component planned and the committee seemed to have doubts that people would actually utilize the space. Saffron notes that retail could set this project apart, even something as small as a coffee shop. Basically, if this is going to be the first by-right proposal since the inception of the new Central Delaware River Overlay, it can't become the closed off condos at Dockside · complete with a plaza that no one really visits, except for maybe the fireworks display.
Lastly, a chief concern for the property is connectivity, both to the Delaware River and the Old City neighborhood. Wedged alongside the Ben Franklin Bridge, the committee wants to see the developers restore Water Street with granite curbs and cobblestone streets. As for the crosswalk situation, Varenhorst noted they're going to leave it as it after talks with PennDOT revealed it would cause timing issues throughout the length of Columbus Boulevard — at least one committee person thought it may be time to "re-signalize" that stretch anyway. A point that the developers said they would discuss with PennDOT in the future.
So, there is it folks. Do you like the plan as is or do you need to see more proof that this proposal is something that will help further connect residents and the city to the Delaware River Waterfront?
· Waterfront apartment project completes design review [Plan Philly]
· Changing Skyline: Proposed building next to Ben Franklin Bridge an improvement, slightly [The Inquirer]
· Plan Presented for Ben Franklin Bridge Apartment Complex [Curbed Philly]