250 apartments planned for site near Ben Franklin Bridge

1 Water Street model; Varenhorst, architect

Proposed Rendering for One Water Street

Waterfront advocates say Central Delaware Overlay and base zoning are not too restrictive

PMC Property Group hopes to break ground on a 250-unit apartment building at 230 N. Columbus Blvd. – near the Ben Franklin Bridge – this July.  The $65 million project, called 1 Water Street calls for 166 one-bedroom and 84 two-bedroom apartments, although there is still discussion about three-bedroom units as well.

The grounds will include two public green spaces, with the majority of the building back 25 feet from the sidewalk.  It will not just be a sidewalk, but a green space with a water feature and built in benches, according to developer PMC Property Group. The setback will accommodate a series of 18-inch retaining walls that will be used to raise the building above the floodplain.

A green roof is planned for the project. It includes 73 parking spaces, and with the expectation of car-share spots. There will be a bicycle storage room, gym, and meeting space for building residents.

Ten percent of the 250 apartments – 25 of them – will be reserved for lower-income residents. The rents will be lower for those apartments, PMC Executive Vice President Jonathan Stavin said, but the rental rate has not be determined.

On Water Street and Columbus,  PMC is offering the larger-than-required public spaces and mixed-income component of the project in exchange for height bonuses. The project is within the Central Delaware Overlay district, which limits height to 100 feet unless

CDAG has embraced 1 Water Street as its poster project for development-by-right under the permanent version of the Central Delaware Zoning Overlay and the underlying zoning, CMX-4.  “They are meeting and exceeding the open space requirements. It is taller than 100 feet, but they are using two formulas to get themselves a height bonus,” Schiavo noted.

He said the building may be taller than what some would prefer, but it does not exceed the density ratio allowed by CMX-4. “It’s not an overbuild.”  The proposal presents as two structures, and it’s the taller, 16-story one that’s about 170 feet, Schiavo said. About half of the parking is beneath the 13-story building, half is exposed to the sky, but screened so that it’s not visible from the street, he said.

CDAG will be sending a letter of support for the project to Civic Design Review, Schiavo said, and will be using the letter to highlight the possibilities for by-right development under waterfront zoning. “The conclusion we came to is that you can actually build in the area of the Central Delaware given the current zoning code and overlay and build a project that requires no variances,” Schiavo said. “This project proves the current zoning overlay and current code work.”

Stavin said designing a project under waterfront zoning was not difficult. “We found that the overlay made a lot of sense given some of the constraints you would have with foundations near the river,” he said. “The height (cap) seemed more than adequate to get the density we needed to make development feasible” since there are several bonus plans available. “We were able to achieve everything we needed to achieve.”

Stavin said his company doesn’t generally do waterfront development, but this parcel was attractive because of its proximity to Old City and “a combination of improvements made by the city of Philadelphia – the Race Street Pier, the pedestrian walkway down Race Street – and the success of private developments such as Morgan’s Pier and the new FringeArts building.”

Apartments will be available about 18 months after construction begins, Stavin said.

See:  http://planphilly.com/articles/2014/05/14/250-apartments-planned-for-site-near-ben-franklin-bridge


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