For Jeffrey Brown, May 2017 can’t come soon enough.
That’s the tentative move-in date for future tenants of the Bridge, a mixed-use, mixed-income development in Old City that’s been on the rise since breaking ground in 2015. But for Brown, of Brown Hill Development and Jeffrey Brown Associates, this project has been about 15 years in the making.
Brown bought the land at 205 Race Street in 2000, not because he had some grand vision for the site, but because, as he puts it, “it was just available.” Little did he know how long he’d have to wait to see something built on the long-vacant lot.
There were the countless designs that NY-based architecture firm Gluck+ showed him. “At one meeting they had 35 miniature models for us to consider,” Brown recalled. There were the many difficult meetings with neighbors and residents, who voiced concerns about obstructed views and the changing fabric of the historic neighborhood. And yes, there were complaints about that billboard.
Today, there’s the Bridge. It’s an 18-story, 146-unit building that will feature high-end retailers like United by Blue, Tuna Bar restaurant, and Moxie Blue salon at the ground level, followed by apartments that range from $1,800 a month for a studio, $2,100 for a one-bedroom, to $3,100 for a two-bedroom.
Fifteen of the apartments will be available for future tenants earning up to 80 percent of the area’s median income.
The design of aluminum-paneled building is really a lesson in collaboration between the developer, designer, and neighborhood, says Brown. When concerns were brought up about interrupted views, Gluck+ essentially carved a piece of the building out on the fifth level, creating an expansive terrace with a cantilevered roof. The ceiling will be covered in mirrors, allowing for passersby to see the landscaped terrace from the street level.
The lower half of the building, referred to as the podium, is the same height as the current structures on Race Street, while the tower rises 17 stories, set back from the street.
“It conforms to its contiguous low-rise neighbors on Race Street as a solid expression of mass, then twists and ascends at 2nd Street to reflect the sky at its top,” explained principal designer Peter Gluck in a statement.
The apartment units, which began pre-leasing today, are a mixed-bag—there are 36 different floor plans to choose from. But nearly every unit comes with a view, either toward Center City, overlooking Old City, or with the Benjamin Franklin Bridge right next door.
Even the four units on the fourth floor that don’t have views have access to their own private terraces above the podium section of the building.
Amenities include a pet-wash room off the main lobby and the fifth-floor terrace level, which is where a gym and co-working lounge are located, too. Each unit will also be able to control the temperature in their home via smartphone.
At the eleventh hour, Gluck+ and Brown Hill decided to take advantage of the site’s 360-degree views and add six private terraces to the roof top. The residents of the penthouses on the 17th and 18th levels will have first dibs on renting the outdoor spaces.
After 15 years, Brown is looking forward to reaching the finish line. And while the billboard is still there, and there’s still months of construction left to go, he can admit to one thing: “It’s a very unusual project,” he says “but I’ll tell you something: Philly has been a very fertile place for problem-solving.”