Minutes January 2018

January Central Delaware Advocacy Group (CDAG) Public Meeting Board Meeting Minutes – 2018

January CDAG Board Meeting

Thursday, January 11, 6:00PM

Society Hill Towers Community Room

285 St. James Place

Matt Ruben welcomes guests and invites introductions.


Terry Terry McKenna Gilbane Building Company representing Ensemble Investments

John Lewallen Digsau Architecture

Michael Goldberg Digsau Architecture
Mark Sanderson Digsau Architecture

Jacob Adelman Philadelphia Inquirer

Marsha Moss–Society Hill Towers

Ed Luglow–Dockside

Joy Richterman–Dockside

Mike McGowan–Pier 3

Elisa Menocal–Dockside

6:00 Call to Order and Approval of Prior Meeting Minutes

Motion to approve November minutes.


6:05 Development ProposalPier 34/35 South (Digsau Architects)

Matt Ruben provided background on the proposal. Digsau invited the CDAG Exec. committee to a meeting years ago. The site in south of Dockside. The design of the public amenity created challenges and there was a question about conforming to the overlay. They have not yet put in a permit application for zoning. Digsau has a meeting scheduled with QVNA. QVNA is the local RCO.

Mark Sanderson from Digsua presented the plan. They had an informal meeting with QVNA Zoning Committee last night and received a favorable review and good feedback. The developer is Ensemble Investments and they are based in California. They have owned the property for 12 years. Two years ago, the success of Spruce Street Harbor Park allowed them to see the site differently than they had in the past. They felt if they could combine the development with a public amenity and a lively public space the project could be feasible. They are thinking of the space and symbiotic benefits for the residents of the city. Locally, Ensemble Investments developed the Courtyard at the Navy Yard. The design is in the conceptual phase even though the renderings are photorealistic. Developing on the waterfront includes constraints and coordination with the Army Corp, DEP. Digsau also met with DRWC.

This is the site of a tragic collapse in 2000 and a more recent collapse in 2015.

In 2006 a proposal by the same developer for a 40 story 530,000 sf tower received zoning approvals. In 2012 another proposal also received zoning approval from the Planning Commission, without public space or access to the water. At that time, the zoning overlay had not yet been adopted. Low rise building on this sight is not economically viable. You need piles that go down to bedrock. The building must have scale to make it financially viable for the developer. The footprint of this scheme is 45,800 of coverage and a good portion of that is public space.

A large portion of the building is on Pier 34. Some of the pier is removed. The proposal includes retail fronting the street, raised up off of the flood plain. There is a public park on the south side. The private residential entrance is very small – postage stamp. Views to the water are a key part of the proposal. At 244’ the tower is within the bonus height limits of the CDO. 244’ is the allowable height if you take advantage of the bonus. 100’ is allowed for all developments. For comparison Dockside is approximately 215’. The goal is to benefit the residents and not adversely impact Dockside residents.

At the entry plaza, the plan is keeping current curb cuts in place. There is a drop off court with a path back to a parking garage. Required parking is .3 spaces per unit or, in this case, with 308 units, under 100 spots. They are considering a couple different parking schemes. A concrete structure with a mechanical car lift system is proposed.

The developer does not feel comfortable providing only .3 parking spaces per resident so they have worked with DRWC to lease 180-200 spaces in the surface lot across the street. That parking will need an architectural enclosure.

The park on the south side is the public amenity component. The Army Corp and DEP see this as impact to the waterfront. They believe remediation and repairs will be necessary. Digsau is working with Biohabitats, out of Baltimore, to create wetland and bring beautification to the mudflats. To survive, wetland repairs must be protected from waves and debris. Ships bring waves and debris, which is a threat to the survival of the wetlands. There is a planted wetland courtyard at center of the park. They are trying to provide a public amenity / park that provides access to the water. Closer to the building, there is public space under the building and out in the open.

One of the key conceptual features, requiring a major investment by the developer, is the lifting of the building to provide views out to the water. It is a big dollar investment that shapes the design in every way. It is the part of the project that allows public access to the park and views out into the river. Lifting the building 40’ in the air to provide views through is also the driver of the building height.


The lot area of Pier 34 and 35 is 136,000 sf. For that area, the FAR is over 800,000 sf. of buildable area. They are proposing something much smaller than what is allowable by the zoning overlay. Table 14-702-2 is the Building Height Bonus Summary. The developer is in talks with DRWC to make the public park and pier space dedicated public land.

They are proposing 5,000 sf retail and taking a height bonus of 12’; a 72’ height bonus for the trail, and a 24’ height bonus for the public space. The portion of public space is 40%.

Matt Ruben informed the presenters of the planned overlay amendments including the public space 36’ height tier and a possible 48’ height tier for sites that reach 40% public space.

The length of the sidewalk frontage on Delaware is 180’. The on-road trail bonus is operative in this part of the CDO. 36’ height is proposed as part of a variance.

The mechanical scheme parking is preferred and is lower than Docksides parking podium garage. 308 units are proposed. The outside materials are TBD. The building will be rental units. The surface lot is owned by DWRC. Pedestrian navigation to the surface lot was discussed.

The City and City Planning Commission gave them a 4’ flood plain, which is the 100-year flood plain. They are set 1’ above the computed 100-year flood plain elevation. There is an 18” difference between the 100-year and 500-year flood plain.

As planned, this is a rental building. The presenter noted that there is a sensitivity and desire to make this an appealing public space. Groundswell is involved in the project. The project will take 20 months in construction.

Matt noted that a by right permit may be possible and asked the design team to keep CDAG informed of their application and zoning approval process.

6:30 Officer Reports

Chair – pass

Secretary – pass

Treasurer – Bank Balance. Noted that six organizations have not paid dues.

6:40 Update and Discussion: Central Delaware Zoning Overlay (CDO) bill status

The bill made progress for November to December.

6:50 Update: City Council Mixed-Income Housing Bill

The bill is not coming up for a vote on Jan 25. It is clear that the Sanchez bill, as it was passed out of Committee last year, is likely dead. It is likely that there will be a per square foot fee that will likely go into Public Housing Trust.

7:00 Update: Wawa + gas station zoning variance case for former Foxwoods site

Pennsport Civic has no date for an RCO meeting. February meeting, on the second Wednesday of the month, will have a Blatstein presentation.

7:10 Election of CDAG officers for 2018

Plan under the bylaws is to elect officers at the end of the year.

Jim asked for nominations for President. Chair nominated. Jim asked for nominations for Chair. Matt Ruben nominated and, by acclamation, approved as Chair and President.

Jim asked for nominations for Two Vice Chairs. Joe Schiavo and Diane Mayer nominated, seconded and approved by acclamation.

Jim asked for nominations for Secretary. Jane Winkel nominated, seconded and approved by acclamation.

Jim asked for nominations for Treasurer. Jim Moss nominated, seconded and approved by acclamation.

The Board remains the same.

7:25 Old Business

Six civics have not paid dues or made arrangements to the chair to not pay dues. Dues is $100 or more. Matt will grant waivers if there a financial hardship.

Jim suggested a sanction if you don’t pay. Matt suggested a proposed revision to the bylaws to remove voting rights if a payment is not made for 2017. Jim will draft an amendment to the bylaws. Dickinson Square West (granted a temporary waiver), Fishtown Neighbors (plans to provide the check), Waterfront Square, Whitman (not voting), Old Richmond Civic (not voting), PA Environmental Council (not voting).

7:30 Motion to Adjourn. Approved.