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On Delaware waterfront, six-building development moves forward

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It’s just the first phase of a long development process

A sideview of the project’s first phase (left) and a later phase (right).
Barton Partners, via CDR

Liberty on the River, a six-building development that would transform a section of the waterfront off Columbus Boulevard with housing, retail, and public space, took a big step forward this month.

The first phase in the project went in front of the Civic Design Review (CDR) early this month to mostly positive response. It consists of three attached towers, which developers are grouping together as “building one.”

Building one sits at the southwest side of the development, consisting of three towers.
Barton Partners, via CDR

The 23-story building will have 21,600 square feet of ground-floor retail, 426 parking spaces spread between the second, third and fourth floors, amenity space on the fifth floor, and 729 units total, according to details of the plans posted on the CDR website. The apartments range from studios to three-bed homes.

This is the first CDR meeting for Liberty on the River, which—when completed—will consist of six buildings that sit on 18 acres of land between the boulevard and the Delaware River. The buildings, which will reach about 240 feet high, will include a hotel, senior living, multi-family homes, retail, open space, and access to the Delaware River Trail, which runs through the property. The land is currently vacant space.

Due to the size of the project, Barton Partners, the group behind the development, has divided it into phases to be brought in front of the CDR individually, said Seth Shapiro of Barton Partners in an interview with Curbed Philly following the CDR meeting.

“We don’t want this to be looked at as a single project, but as a piece of the city,” he added.

While much of the CDR feedback was positive, some suggestions centered on the development’s interaction with surrounding open and public space, according to notes on the meeting obtained by Curbed Philly last week.

The CDR suggested the group add more to the open space than, “just trees and grass,” according to the notes. They also urged architects to reconsider the design of a plaza between building one and the other structures, saying that there are too many zig-zagging pathways in the current plan.

Some concerns revolved around the traffic to the norther pier building—which is a later phase of the project—because a road to the pier crosses over the existing bike trail.

“Consider minimizing vehicular traffic to northern pier. Consider parking reductions of that building,” the notes said.

Shapiro said his group was pleased with the feedback, adding that the CDR members seemed to understand what they’re eager to create; not a gated community, but rather a development with a lot of open and public space.

The group is tweaking some of the design based on CDR suggestions, and they’ll return for another meeting in the next few months.

For now, Shapiro said the group has a foundation permit for the first building submitted, and they hope to start work in the late summer or early fall.