Thursday, November 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Mixed-use complex at 2nd and Race gets another look

A sketch of the proposed multi-use apartment complex proposed at 205 Race Street facing north. The plans now accommodate visibility of a nearby billboard.
A sketch of the proposed multi-use apartment complex proposed at 205 Race Street facing north. The plans now accommodate visibility of a nearby billboard. Peter Gluck and Partners

Developers are pushing once again to build a mixed-use apartment complex at the long-vacant corner of 2nd and Race streets in Old City. The latest iteration of the project includes 148 rental units, 28 parking spaces, 51 bike parking spaces, and more than 14,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor, according to site plans submitted to the Historical Commission’s architecture committee, which will review the project on Tuesday.

205 Race Street is a project of developers Jeffrey Brown and Greg Hill of Brown Hill Development. It was designed by Peter Gluck and Partners, a New York architecture firm.

This is the group’s third attempt to develop the property. Its last attempt, in 2012, met opposition from some neighbors as well as from the owner of a freestanding, 150-foot tall billboard on an otherwise empty lot across the street. The developers scheduled a hearing for zoning variances, but withdrew the application before the hearing took place.

Since then, a zoning overlay was adopted by City Council that allows the project to be built by right, and the architect redesigned the building to keep views of the billboard clear. (Yes, that actually happened, and the billboard features prominently in the latest renderings.)

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    According to the site plan, the building will be 51 feet tall along Race Street and rise to 197 feet along 2nd Street. The apartments will be a mix of studios and 1- and 2-bedroom units.

    The commercial spaces will be accessible for loading and trash pick-up on Florist Street, which runs alongside the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, so glass storefronts will wrap the length of the project on 2nd Street and Race Street.

    The developers plan to claim a bonus for mixed-income housing, so some of the units will be affordable to individuals making 80 percent of Area Median Income. (An individual meeting this affordability criteria would make around $44,000 a year.)

    The developers have already applied for a building permit. The Historical Commission’s architecture committee will be able to review and comment on the plans on Tuesday, and the project will need to go through Civic Design Review, but otherwise it can proceed by right.

    PlanPhilly.com  is dedicated to covering design, planning and development issues in Philadelphia. The news website is a project of PennPraxis, the clinical arm of the School of Design of the University of Pennsylvania. It is funded by the Wyncote Foundation.

    Jared Brey PLANPHILLY