City planners view hotel, Wistar, tofu factory plans

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission meets Tuesday, July 20, 1 PM, upstairs at 1515 Arch St. Planners will talk about, among other things:

- 401 Race St.: Developer Robert Ambrosi's Race Street Partners LP plans 155 hotel rooms and 35,000 square feet of retail in this taxpayer-subsidized 9-story complex, plus 379 parking spaces. Commission's Martin Gregorski says there'll be "no action" at the meeting, "but we expect a possible rezoning ordinance" this fall.

- Wistar Institute: Wistar will knock down a part of the anatomy-gene-cancer-vaccine research center's complex in the 3600 block of Spruce Street and build a new 6-story, 94,000-square-foot biology research building where, we're told, fraternity pledges will still be sent with instructions to find out how many human hands there are in a bag of hands. (Note: an earlier version wrongly said Wistar is part of Penn; Wistar is located in the middle of Penn's campus, but it's independent. See "Also" note below.)

- 10th and Olive: Nature's Soy, 713 N. 10th Street, is expanding its processing plant into Olive and Hutchinson streets. Like dairies, fresh-soy products need local plants to serve local markets. So Philadelphia manufacturing, which used to produce Midvale Steel, Baldwin locomotives, Stetson hats, Disston saws, Hog Island ships, Schmidt's beer, now gives us tofu.

- The Philadelphia Zoo has a new parking plan.

MORE from Wistar spokeswoman Staci Vernick Goldberg: "Wistar is planning a major renovation and expansion of its facility." Wistar "consists of a late-Victorian terra cotta and brick building constructed in 1894, and a Cancer Research Building and vivarium constructed in 1975. The planned project involves demolition of a portion of the 1975 structure and construction of a seven-story research tower (five stories above-grade), with state of the art laboratories in its place.

"The project will enable Wistar, recognized internationally for its cancer research and vaccine development, to expand its research programs and public outreach, and recruit new faculty. We are currently working with the architecture and engineering firm Ballinger to refine the design and scope of the project, and securing the necessary approvals from various agencies and institutions with interest in the project."