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What's Happening in:  Point Breeze 

Plans for Cascia Center at Broad and Ellsworth presented to neighbors

A plan for a one-story Cascia Center was unveiled last night to neighbors of the “peacemaking” facility proposed for Broad and Ellsworth, where the former St. Rita’s school was just demolished.

cascia 640x480 Plans for Cascia Center at Broad and Ellsworth presented to neighbors

First two pics from SBSNA’s Facebook page

Officials from the neighboring St. Rita of Cascia Shrine, which would manage the center, told the South Broad Street Neighbors Association that they plan to build a 20-foot-high detached structure that would contain offices for counseling, meeting space and a large community room. Twenty parking spaces would go behind it, between the building and Carlisle Street.

Peter Zutter, president of the SBSNA, said the presentation was not well-received. “No problems with the type of uses, in fact quite good support for the concept, but the one story building of cheap materials did not go over well,” he said. “It is unfortunate that they did not talk to us sooner as it seems they have mostly completed design.”

cascia2 640x480 Plans for Cascia Center at Broad and Ellsworth presented to neighbors

Zutter said the officials said they wouldn’t be able to afford major changes to the design.

The site was still being cleared when we passed by it yesterday, but Fr. Joe Genito, pastor and director of the shrine, told us last month that he hoped the groundbreaking on the new building could happen in the spring.

cascia1 640x424 Plans for Cascia Center at Broad and Ellsworth presented to neighbors

The beginning of the demo last month

The center will be nondenominational and reach out to the community to “offer solutions for peacemaking and conflict resolution,” Genito said.

He said the center would build on the work at the shrine, which honors St. Rita of Cascia, a peacemaker who was born in what is now Umbria, Italy in 1381. “She got hotheaded Italians to stop killing each other,” Genito said. “We want to use that  symbol of St. Rita the peacemaker to reach out to a very violent city.”

The hearing before the Zoning Board of Adjustments is Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.

pixel Plans for Cascia Center at Broad and Ellsworth presented to neighbors

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22 Responses to Plans for Cascia Center at Broad and Ellsworth presented to neighbors

  1. JonP February 19, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    This seems like such a missed opportunity. The peacemaking idea is noble, but they could also do so much more. Anyone with vision could see some first-floor retail mixed in with senior housing (in the mold of the St. Maron’s complex off Washington Ave.) above.

    Instead they propose a shed.

    Though I do give the architects props for including a sidewalk-riding bicyclist in the rendering. They clearly did their research.

  2. RichT February 19, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Sad. Not worthy of Broad Street. And next to such a beautiful church too.

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 10:31 pm #

      There is no evidence that they put forth the resources into a professional design plan with any creativity. If they ‘couldn’t afford this’ ( not true) than the project should not have been pursued.

  3. DJSPhilly February 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    Great idea, however, the building looks like a cheap suburban community center. This is a missed opportunity for South Broad Street. Shame on SBSNA for not pushing back or requiring community involvement sooner! This project does not compliment or enhance the fabric of our community!

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 10:34 pm #

      I agree that there is no evidence that an attempt was made to address the context of the site. Why does it seem that the SBSCA had acquiesced to this proposal! How is that fighting for south Broad a Street?!!

  4. Derek February 19, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Can someone explain to me what the hell a “peacemaking” center is? I mean, I’m all for peace, but I’m not sure I fully grasp the concept.

    • Albert Stumm February 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Genito said the idea is to be a place for conflict resolution. Sort of nebulous about the details though.

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

      A ‘peacemaking center’ is code for ‘we are the. RC church and we can do whatever we want, and all tax free , for us to accept with no scrutiny .

  5. mememe February 19, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    This is just horrendous. And dont blame the SBSNA, they werent involved in the process early enough to really be able to impact the final renderings. The ZBA should be able to reject something like this and force them to build something that a.) has at least 2 freaking stories and b.) doesnt include 20 parking spaces. What 20 individuals are going to need to park here all at once?? This should absolutely be illegal. They might as well let Blatstein build a one room shack at Broad and Washington with 200 parking spaces. Such crap.

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

      I totally agree, except I must ask why the SBSCA had no involvement I. This process from early on ?
      Isn’t this part of what being an effective civic association is ?

  6. mememe February 19, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    This also isnt even a f*cking accurate rendering, as it completely eliminates the fact that there’s a subway stop directly in front of the building on Broad St. How the hell do you make a rendering of a new building without including something like that? I cant deride this enough.

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      They don’t care about the subway , they have 20 parking spots.

      These people are clueless and have ideas that are grossly out of step with the present .

  7. Aaron Bauman February 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    What is the variance for?

    • Albert Stumm February 19, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

      It’s a use variance. Here’s what the city zoning site says: PERMIT FOR THE CONTINUATION OF THE PREVIOUSLY ESTABLISHED UNITY OF USE (SEE A/P NO 261355). FOR THE DEMOLITION OF AN EXISTING, SEMI-DETACHED, THREE (3) STORY BUILDING AND THE ERECTION OF A DETACHED STRUCTURE (N.T.E. 20′-0″); FOR THE ELIMINATION OF ALL EXISTING PARKING AND FOR THE CREATION OF AN ACCESSORY, SURFACE PARKING LOT CONSISTING OF TWENTY (20) SPACES INCLUDING ONE (1) VAN ACCESSIBLE PARKING SPACE WITH LANDSCAPE BUFFER ALONG BROAD STREET, CARLISLE AND ELLSWORTH STREETS AND LANDSCAPED AREAS WITHIN THE PARKING LOT AND FOR THE ERECTION OF A 6 FT FENCE ALONG THE PERIMETER OF THE PROPERTY AT BROAD ST, ELLSWORTH ST AND CARLISLE ST; FOR USE AS FOLLOWS: THE PROPOSED STRUCTURE FOR USE AS ASSEMBLY & ENTERTAINMENT AND PERSONAL SERVICES (COMMUNITY CENTER FOR GATHERING AND RECEPTIONS WITH ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES, COUNSELING OFFICES, CONFERENCE ROOMS AND MEETING ROOMS); ON THE SAME LOT WITH AN EXISTING CHURCH AND AN EXISTING RECTORY. NO SIGNS THIS APPLICATION. SIZE AND LOCATION AS SHOWN IN THE APPLICATION/PLANS.

      • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 11:01 pm #

        This is why to have to go to the ZBA hearing to voice your concerns.

  8. Stewart February 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    If that’s what they plan to build why not just renovate the 3 story building they just took down?

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      Because they have no taste and no vision, and they font care about people’s history.

  9. jim February 20, 2014 at 3:37 am #

    This building is an insult to the city of Philadelphia. The building looks like a Doublewide Trailer, A Conflict Center the design alone makes me want to punch someone. Shame on whoever started this process,there where at least two or three brick townhouses lining broad street which were torn down first,then the school bldg behind them.even though the school bldg was not that great looking it was more substantial and could have been rehabbed,why the rush to tear down all these bldgs? something doesn’t smell right. With all the churches and schools in the city why can’t they just have some meeting space to do all this conflict resolution.I think its a rush to demo bldgs in order to sell land in the future.
    Also does anyone know the history and reason the Broad Street Townhomes were demolished?

    • Peter Verrecchia February 20, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

      I love your comment. It says it all.

      I’m sure those buildings were allowed to deteriorate and then they say that they can’t afford to rehabilitate them, it’s cheaper to ‘Get new!’

      This endeavor is an insult to a city that has lived under the yoke of leaders who care little about the history of real communities .

  10. Allen D February 20, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Hideous might not be strong enough. It looks an annex to the Public Health building up at Broad and Lombard. Only worse.

    • Peter Verrecchia February 21, 2014 at 12:05 am #

      At least the health clinic has some mid century charm to it. If they cleaned it up and replaced the parking lot with a garden and public meeting place it could be nice.

      I agree that the project at Broad and Ellsworth is a real lemon.

  11. Red February 20, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    I agree with everyone who emphasized how bad this building looks in the rendering (without taking into consideration that the subway stop directly in front of the building is made translucent to the point of oblivion). This looks like a worse version of the rec center at Columbus Square Park. As others have said, a multistory building providing mixed use would be much more beneficial for the setting.

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