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Blatstein's Superblock Project Stalls With Design Committee

The mega-development and two other projects were asked to resubmit their design proposals at a later date.

At yesterday's nearly five-hour-long Civic Design Review meeting—a record, the committee noted—Bart Blatstein's mega-development proposed for South Broad Street and Washington Avenue was tabled, with the request that he address some of their design concerns in a follow-up meeting.

The massive project is 2.5 years in the making, with Blatstein noting that yesterday's review was the 40th meeting on the development. That's not entirely surprising, given the magnitude of the 195,694-square-foot project that features a 34-story residential tower, 66,000 square feet of European-style retail on the fourth level dubbed "The Village," and 620 parking spaces.

The project has come under fire with local neighborhood associations, including a community meeting last week, where reportedly a majority of residents in attendance were against the mega-development. (Notably, only three local residents showed up at yesterday's design meeting.)

Design committee members were most concerned with the commercial space being on the fourth floor above three parking levels. Member and local architect Cecil Baker asked, "With this vision of a French village, the issue is, how do you get to it? Is there a way to make a way that's perceptible from the street, where things occur on the journey to the village?"

Blatstein, who repeatedly throughout his presentation noted his success with the Piazza in Northern Liberties, said he would be open to designing a more transparent and transformative pathway to the Village.

The design committee also suggested rearranging the tower to be aligned North-to-South in order to address shading concerns poised by residents; moving at least one level of parking below grade; and reconsidering the material that will shield the parking from the street.

"This project will be a great asset—once it's done and with proper design and execution," said committee member Nancy Rogo Trainer.

The committee also reviewed four other projects at the meeting. Here's the low-down on all of them:

1950 E. Logan Street

This mixed-use project will include 111 residential units, 2 ground-floor commercial spaces, 45 parking spaces, and 45 bike spaces. Developed by Tevel Management and designed by CKG Architects, the current site is a vacant industrial warehouse near LaSalle university.

The committee's main concerns involved the building's transparency. The design calls for an 8-foot fence surrounding the property, given the "scary" location. The committee suggested designing a more welcoming entrance and reconsidering the tall fence in order to make it a more safe and welcoming environment.

The committee voted for the developers and designers to resubmit their proposal.

6501 New State Road

This proposal is for the MaST II Community Charter School-Tacony Campus. It sits along the Delaware River and is the former site of two major industrial companies, Dodge Steel Works and Tacony Iron Works. The project includes two school buildings connected by an elevated bridge, as well as softball/baseball and soccer fields.

The committee voted to conclude the design process of the project, and suggested incorporating more sustainable aspects.

1222 N. 2nd Street

This live-work residential development sits across the street from the Liberty Square development. Designed by Harman-Deustch Architecture, the proposal calls for 60-some dwelling units, 7,206-square-feet of commercial space, 10 live-work units, 56 parking spaces, and 26 bike spaces.

The committee noted their concern with the project's density—92 percent of the lot will be built upon. They also noted the development's lack of landscape, commenting that the the open space proposed looked like an afterthought.

They voted for the developers and design committee to resubmit their proposal.

5364 Jackson Street

This proposal will demolish the now-vacant Saint Bartholomew School and build a LifeCenter and elder care residences. Designed by Blackney Hayes Architects, the project calls for 144 residential units, a 15,000-square-foot LifeCenter, 24 parking spaces, and 14 bike spaces.

The committee voted unanimously to conclude the design process for the project, which will be built in three phases.