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Design committee OKs Schuylkill River towers, West Philly transit-oriented project

But a 4125 Chestnut mid-rise needs some work

5901 Market Street
The New Market West transit-oriented affordable housing development sailed through the Civic Design Review.
Rendering by Kitchen & Associates

At Tuesday’s monthly Civic Design Review meeting, two of the three projects were given the green light by the committee, while another student housing development was asked to make some changes and return for a second presentation at the end of the month.

A two-tower project by PMC Property Group proposed for one of the last-remaining developable sites along the Schuylkill River was one of the two projects that concluded their Civic Design Review process. However, this was the project’s second time presenting to the committee, and so the process would have concluded anyway, regardless of the outcome.

At last month’s initial presentation, the Civic Design Review committee called the design proposal a “bitter pill to swallow,” critiquing the project’s lack of integration with surrounding neighborhood and Schuylkill River Trail. At the same time, they praised Gensler’s designs. In total, the committee had 18 recommendations and concerns about the project, including the above-ground podium parking.

One of the two changes made to the design proposal includes swapping out a brick facade along Arch Street for shopfront glazing.
Rendering by Gensler

Of the 18 suggestions, two were addressed in the revised design proposal: The bike path leading to the Schuylkill River Trail was widened and a brick facade along Arch Street was replaced with shopfront glazing to match the lobby’s facade.

Much to the committee’s disappointment, a Gensler architect was not present at Tuesday’s second presentation. The developer believed that revised design proposal “spoke for itself.” A representative for PMC said that they plan to continue workshopping the design with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.

5901 Market Street
5901 Market Street Rendering by Kitchen & Associates
Rendering by Kitchen & Associates

Top: The first phase will include a commercial building. Bottom: The second phase will bring affordable housing to the project.

5901 Market Street

Dubbed New Market West, this design proposal calls for a 145,019-square-foot mixed-use development at what’s currently a parking lot, vacant rowhomes, and unused gas station at the foot of the Market-Frankford El. The Mission First Housing, transit-oriented development would bring a five-story building with commercial space in the first phase and 35 low-income housing units in the second phase.

It also calls for 80 parking spaces in an underground garage, a public promenade, and a roof park, similar to Cira Green in University City.

The committee praised the project overall and voted to conclude the CDR process for the $13.5 million project. “It’s great to see a project that has ground-floor retail, underground parking, and a third-party LEED certification,” said chair and architect Nancy Rogo-Trainer. “And it’s nice to see that [these projects] can be done and that development groups are willing to invest in them.”

4125 Chestnut Rendering by LABHaus

4125 Chestnut Street

The committee also considered a proposal to build a six-story prefab apartment building at 4125 Chestnut Street, which is currently home to a carwash and a parking lot. The site, which is zoned CMX-4, would allow for a much taller building (a 17-story tower was originally proposed), but the proposal instead calls for a mid-rise with ground-floor retail, 130 apartments, and underground parking with 27 spaces.

In addition, there will be a roof deck with a dog run and three or four parklets on each corner of the building.

The committee voted to continue the CDR process to allow the design team to address some major concerns, like the one elevator for 130 units. The developer and designer will have a quick turn-around—the next CDR meeting is scheduled for November 28.

Schuylkill River Trail

Schuylkill River Trail, , PA