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Design Committee Says Blatstein's Mega-Development Still Needs Work

The design updates were called "perfunctory"

At yesterday's monthly Civic Design Review meeting, members called design changes made to developer Bart Blatstein's superblock project "perfunctory" at best.

The updated design proposal for the highly contested project at 1001-29 S. Broad Street did address some of the advisory committee's suggestions from the March meeting. In particular, it included a new "grand" staircase leading to the fourth-floor European-style retail village. It also slightly shifted the proposed building on Broad and Carpenter by 60 feet.

Still, the new proposal did not address the height of the 32-story tower, which is the most-contested part of the project among residents. One resident of the Hawthorne neighborhood who lives across the street said, "We don't want a 32-story tower. Where I live, I will be looking out to a total wall."

Albert Hicks, another Hawthorne resident who has met with Blatstein multiple times, pointed to a number of other developments along South Broad Street that have remained in the five- to eight-story range, including Carl Dranoff's 777 South Broad project.

Committee chair Nancy Rogo Trainer said, "It still feels like a wall between South Philly and Center City," adding that he should consider going back to the drawing board.

Given that it is Blatstein's second presentation to the committee, he is not required to return for another meeting. In response to the committee's comments, Blatstein said, "I believe in this project 100 percent—it's been 2.5 years in the making. So I thank you for your time and suggestions."