Nearby neighbors and concerned residents packed a room last night at the Hawthorne Cultural Center to hear the development plans for the long-vacant corner of Broad and Washington Ave. straight from the man himself, Bart Blatstein.
Early reports had this development as a “vertical Piazza” type project packed with one million square feet of space. What we learned last night is that the plans have changed just a little bit.
Blatstein explained that his interest in this particular lot goes back 30 years to when he first started in the business, calling it the “gateway to Center City” while also noting it was “bizarre” that it had sat for so long. Plans originally called for a 450,000 square-foot retail facility filled with big box stores. Now, Blatstein said that they’re planning 210,000 square-foot of retail, including a grocery store, restaurants, definitely a bike shop and even a large space for a retailer with its own dedicated parking area.
When prodded during the Q/A session, Blatstein confirmed the grocery was not a Wegman’s, saying he “begged” to get them to come but they won’t. Sorry, folks. A resident in attendance mentioned they would like to see local hiring, and Blatstein assured the man that jobs will go to locals first. “We pay particular attention to the needs of the community,” he said.
The residential component is in flux. Blatstein mentioned that they plan to construct two residential towers in two separate phases that would soar 20- to 28-stories above the 4-story retail. That puts the building around 33-stories off the ground. According to Blatstein, the market will determine how many units are in each tower — it could be anywhere between 500 to 800 units in each one.
The first phase calls for the construction of a residential tower on the NW corned of the lot at Broad and Carpenter St. If all goes well, the second phase at the corner of 13th and Washington Ave. would see a second tower built. Blatstein said they would be a mix of studio/1-bedroom (75%) and 2-bedroom (25%) units, ranging from “mid to high teens” in monthly rent. There will not be any affordable housing units in the project, due to the fact that there is no public money being used for the development.
The private terrace/deck area would house some interesting amenities. For starters, the perimeter would boast a walking track. There would also be a pool, a private dog park and what looks like a grassy area.
The room at the Hawthorne Cultural Center was packed for the presentation and Blatstein answered all questions that were asked of him. The main issues centered around density and parking. Blatstein contends that the density is needed to sustain the amenities and that the 710 interior, unseen parking spots make it a “non-issue” for the project. He did mention that each tenant of the potential 1,000 to 1,600 units will have the option to have a space at the complex, noting that the trend for the targeted demographic is to go car-less and walk or bike. Blatstein confirmed that the lot directly to the east of larger lot could potentially be used for overflow parking, although this project will be highly transit-oriented as it’s right on the Broad Street Line and near several bus lines.
Here are the preliminary floors plans for the project (please excuse the poor quality):
If all goes according to plan, the project is expected to break ground “sometime before June 2015.”