Three big residential projects got the green light from the city’s design committee on Tuesday, collectively pushing 253 units forward at the Civic Design Review’s last meeting of the year.
The Civic Design Review committee, an advisory board of the city’s Planning Commission, concluded the CDR process for a 130-unit apartment building at 4125 Chestnut; an 83-unit affordable housing project in Sharswood; and a 40-unit condo development at 2601-15 Emerald Street.
It was the second and therefore final return for the project at 4125 Chestnut Street, which calls for razing what’s currently a carwash and building a 66,749-square-foot, six-story apartment building with ground-floor office space in its place. The second design proposal address some suggestions from last month’s presentation, including the addition of a second elevator.
But the design committee expressed its concern again for the building’s relation to the rowhomes along Ludlow Street. “I’d ask the developer to take another look at the building at street level as it relates to the existing residents who live there,” said Michael Johns.
This 107,411-square-foot project calls for 83 rentals and is part of the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s multi-phase Sharswood-Blumberg revitalization plan for the Sharswood neighborhood. The 2.77-acre site will feature a mix of one- to three-story buildings, plus a common lawn area, a community center, and a play area for kids.
Barton Partners, the architecture firm leading the design, said its intention with the varied design palette was to “provide variety” and “create a streetscape that shows that these could have been built at different times by different people.”
The committee commended the design for their efforts, but also expressed the want for a less suburban and more urban feel. Dan Garofalo also lauded the project’s sustainability—all homes will be Energy Star-certified—but said, “I think we need to start being aggressive” about meeting the city’s goals of reducing by greenhouse emissions from the built environment in half by 2030.
“This is exactly the project where we have the institutional power to do so.”
The Civic Design Review also voted to conclude the process on a 40-unit condo project proposed for a site in Kensington that currently features a few blighted warehouses. The structures would be demolished and replaced by 14 rowhomes—12 triplexes and two duplexes. There would also be 10 surface parking spaces in between the rowhomes and 14 bicycle spaces.
One of the committee’s top concerns of the design by Harman Deutsch was the development’s lack of relation to Huntingdon Street. Because the street is heavily trafficked by the neighborhood, Nancy Rogo-Trainer suggested that the design should address the public realm at street level in a more meaningful way.
Leo Addimando also called on the designer to consider using less materials. Currently, the townhomes call for brick, metal, and two colors of lap siding. “There are too many materials being used on two- and three-story developments in the city,” he said, adding that the less materials used would create a more lasting look.
Editor’s note: Due to a typo error in the original Civic Design Review proposal, a previous version of this article listed the incorrect street number for the Emerald Street project.