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Plan for 71 apartments next to Fishtown Rec Center moves forward

The Civic Design Review committee gave it the go-ahead

A mixed-use project that will bring a 71-unit apartment building next to Fishtown Recreation Center has cleared its latest hurdle, receiving the green light from the city’s Civic Design Review committee on Wednesday afternoon.

The proposed project, dubbed “Wolff Court” and designed by Harman Deutsch Architecture, calls for the demolition of a couple of structures on the .6-acre site, including the one-story Wolff auto shop at 501 E. Girard Avenue. In its place will be a four-story, brick building with 71 apartments on the second through fourth floors, and ground-floor retail.

The apartments will be a mix of studios, one-bedrooms, and two-bedrooms. There will also be amenities like outdoor space, a gym, a movie room, and a dining area for residents.

In addition, there will be four ground-level parking spaces for the retail and 47 spaces underground. Another 24 spaces will be for bicycles.

A floor plan of the second level. Studios are light blue, one-bedrooms are darker blue, and two-bedrooms located at the corners.

The 69,521-square-foot project can be built by-right, but a CDR meeting was triggered because it is proposing 50,000-square-feet of new construction and more than 50 residential units.

The committee said there was “a lot to commend” in this project, but the ground-floor retail was especially appreciated. Plans for a 6,000-square-foot fresh market store and two other commercial spaces on the first floor were praised by committee chair and architect Nancy Rogo-Trainer, who said, “We’ve been begging developers to include more commercial space in their projects.”

Although the committee’s vote to conclude the CDR process was unanimous, it did express some concerns about certain aspects of the design proposal, namely a six-foot brick wall that will separate the development from the Fishtown Recreation Center’s basketball courts.

A taller wall would require a zoning variance, but a representative for the Registered Community Organization (RCO) associated with this project stated that Fishtown residents were concerned with the height of the wall from “a safety perspective,” in that “kids could climb over” the six-foot wall from the basketball court.

Committee member Michael Johns also noted his concern and suggested that the designers consider security gates on both the entrance and exit of the one-way vehicular driveway to prevent trespassing.

Harman Deutsch and local developer GY Properties have been communicating with the Fishtown Recreation Center to figure out the best solution. The rec center is also set to undergo $500,000 worth of renovations.