NY developer floats Fishtown project

Developer-financier Billy Procida, who takes credit for helping redevelop Manhattan's arty TriBeCa and building 5,000+ homes in the Bronx but pulled out of Camden because getting deals done there "was too political," has a client who wants to redevelop its property, the old U.S. Dry Ice Co. site, 33-51 Laurel St., Fishtown.

"The spark is the Sugar House casino up the street, and that very nice neighborhood just to the west, what do you call it? Northern Liberties," Procida told me this morning.

You know (Northern Liberties builder) Bart Blatstein? I asked. "No, I wanna meet him," Procida said. "He does fine work."

Procida says the riverside industrial strip of "Fishtown is like TriBeCa" in Manhattan, another old Procida building ground: "old industrial lofts, plus raw land, or what will be raw land. This is a one-story building, it's not conversion-able." He says he's signed Philadelphia's own Wallace Roberts & Todd as architect.

"Cause most people don't get good architects. I want a good looking" and an "economically efficient project the dcommunity will embrace. The highest and best use for that property is probably straigth-up residential." Like Isle of Capri's Waterfront towers nearby. "That's a big job, boy. That's got to get filled up."

So who's going to live on the Dry Ice site? "Affordable, luxury, workforce, that's to be determined," Procida told me. "Depends on how that Sugar House does. How's it doing so far?" It's not hard to switch focus, he adds: "The difference between workforce and luxury homes, is primarily in the finishes.

"We need a year for planning, another year for working drawings. the project's two years from breaking ground. Gives the market time to heal.... The charm of these communities, they have a little honky tonk to em. Mixed with every social-economic group."

Procida's office sports a picture of him with the Grateful Dead's Bob Weir, Donald Trump, and George Norcross, the insurance mogul and South Jersey Democratic power who Procida failed to sway in his Camden projects. "An unlikely group," he told me. "I love it."