Minutes February 2018

February CDAG Board Meeting

Thursday, February 15, 2018 6:00PM

Society Hill Towers Community Room

285 St. James Place

Call to Order, Introductions.

Motion to approve minutes. Approved.

Presentation: Waterfront Boulevard (former Foxwoods site) residential development proposal

The project is being submitted as a by right project. Herceles Grigos, the zoning attorney, described the proposal. The site is located at 1401 Columbus Blvd, and is sometimes known as the former Foxwoods site. Pennsport Civic is the coordinating RCO and they presented the proposal to them last week. The project is described in phases, but they hope is to build in one phase. The plan includes 169 townhomes. The development team is working with DRWC to extend the trail. Phase 2 includes the Pier development. They have not made an application to the Zoning Board. The code requires is a 50’ set back from the pier. About 40% of the site is underwater. That section will require civic design review. The development team expects to go before civic design review on Tuesday.

The architects, referred to as, Shimmey and Nez, described the site and the buildings. They plan to hold to the trail in their design. The site is bound by Reed to the north and Tasker to the south. They are trying to get a meeting with Comcast to determine how Reed Street will be utilized. The street is not currently public. Dickinson Street is river access street and 50’ is reserved for stormwater management. They have an easement to use that portion of the street for access to the south of the site.

First phase includes 169 homes and a 3,000 s.f. café on the waterfront. Phase 2 permitting includes 49 additional townhomes and the Community Center. However, the intention is to construct in one phase. Dickinson Street comes through as the main access street to a Waterfront Plaza to intersect with the trail. The Café will give a motif and a life to the plaza. Community Center includes a pool, marina and nature access area.

The site is organized around circulation. The three streets (Tasker, Reed and Dickinson) connect the neighborhood to the river, the trail and Columbus Blvd. The plan includes retail amenities. They hope to activate the riverfront sufficiently to create a draw and to enrich the site. The plan accounts for vehicular traffic, providing passage through to the retail area. Vehicular and pedestrian circulation are separate. They are introducing two new streets in addition to the existing three streets. Parking access is through alleys. Thirty to forty homes have front entrances towards the river. The green areas connect to the river trail. A boardwalk connects green areas into a single community. The Pier also has a separation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic – vehicles are below and pedestrians are on the top. There is a floating plaza that provides views of the river. Waterfront areas show differences in intensity and character. The Waterfront plaza is the community node. On the site, the ramp is the trail. The fronts of the homes on the green streets have rain gardens for stormwater management. Stoops are intended for gathering. Permeable bridges are for gathering and stormwater management.

There are two housing types – A and B. All have 4 stories, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a roof deck. All first stories are 2.5’ above the flood plain, which is not required by code. Type A has two car garages and Type B has one car garages. The ground floors are faced concrete block. There is no plumbing or mechanical on the first floor. The windows are corrugated metal with three different shades, randomly assigned. Two types of houses and three different shades.

Dickinson Street is the river access street from the neighborhoods. There are rain gardens between homes with paved areas around them. There are benches around rain gardens to enrich the area visually even though you cannot walk in the rain gardens.

The development team has adapted a sustainability approach and user focused design. Evapotranspiration is used to mitigate the urban heat island effect. Interior vegetation increases aesthetics and slows on site traffic. Street trees provide shade and increase air quality. They plan for low flow fixtures, low energy appliances, and multiple zones HVAC for thermal comfort and regulating energy consumption.

A comment from CDAG: The site is described as fully accessible by the public. Are these fee simple town homes? Will the corridors of access be gated if the owners want them to be? The client intends to own and manage the property. Planned community law allows the HOA declaration to be changed, which typically requires 75% of the owners to agree to the proposed changes. They developer intends to build the project as proposed and community access is provided to the site. Gates are not planned. The part that could be gated is the driveways. The green elements are planned as open to the public.

They are working with DRWC to create an agreement that preserves public access to the trail. The agreement with DRWC could be an easement.  The goal is unequivocally to have a public trail on the waterfront that runs through the site. The trail is part of the anchor of the design concept. They will include Pennsport in the conversation.

They have 369 parking spaces. They also have bicycle parking. There are14 spaces in front of the café, and 45 units on the pier. The ramp is the trail through the piazza. The ramp makes it even more clear what is the trail. The Community Center is elevated and the trail goes underneath. The trail goes through the piazza.

A comment from CDAG about the importance of signage to offer cues about how to navigate site. Paving is a possible cue. CDAG asked for an updated rendering that clearly shows the trail. The CDR meeting is March 6. This is a one construction project.

Their civil engineers are working with PWD to make sure they are compliant. The site is mostly above the flood plain, but not above the 500-year flood plain. They plan to have non-habitable space on the first floors, even though that is allowed by code.

Recent Articles:

https://philly.curbed.com/2018/1/24/16929220/delaware-river-townhouses-foxwoods

http://www.phila.gov/CityPlanning/projectreviews/PDF/1499%20Columbus%20Blvd_CDR%20Booklet%20Final-compressed.pdf

Officer Reports

Treasurer report.

WaWa Gas Station Zoning Variance for former Foxwoods Site

Pat from Pennsport present. There is no change in the proposed design and no ZBO date.

 Update: Central Delaware Zoning Overlay (CDO) Amendment Bill Status

  1. There are currently eight river access streets in the CDO and there is a proposal to add four new river access streets. Building is not allowed in the right of way to the water, or where these streets would be if they crossed to the water. The proposed river access streets are Cumberland, Berks, Tasker and Mifflin. Councilman Squilla will make the decision based on the choice of the home civics for each street. He will consult with Pennsport on Tasker and Mifflin; Port Richmond, Old Richmond and Fishtown on Berks; and Fishtown on Cumberland. CDAG will support the positions of the home civics. All four are supported by DRWC. Planning Commission has not expressed that they do not support the additions.
  1. Create a Plan of Development Process for large parcels with many acres where you can place multiple buildings, that may potentially want to take advantage of height bonuses. Under the CDO height bonus are allowed if you provide an amenity. Developments that include multiple buildings typically include phased construction. How do you ensure that the developer is forced to provide planned amenities after Phase 1 has been completed and before they move on to Phase 2. How do you ensure that LI does not issue a permit for Phase 2 if the developer does not plan to build the amenity? The Plan of Development Process will govern what the developer needs to build. There will be an accompanying deed restriction which bars constructing Phase 2 buildings. Cert. of Occupancy will be denied if the amenity is not provided, but deed restrictions are a stronger back stop. The Planning Commission and the Law Department will craft the Deed restrictions. The Plan of Development Process will apply to project that have five acres and multiple buildings seeking height variances. There is a proposal to create two new tiers of height bonus for a 36’ and a 48’ for larger a percent of public space.
  1. New requirements for public space requirements for bonuses: Planning Commission must review and approve public space. They are proposing that the public space must be ADA accessible. To be bonusable public space the narrowest dimension should be 30’, uninterrupted by vehicular traffic. Public space must directly abut Columbus Blvd. or the trail, or a river access street and meet the minimum width.

There is a value and a need for perpendicular connections to the trail. The connection must be 72’ for trail 48’ for trail connections (cannot be vehicular access).

They are considering a new bonus category for substantial pedestrian and bicycle infrastructural improvements and access to the CDO from the neighborhoods. Planning Commission approval will be required. DRWC’s intent is to see if the standard can be the same as connector streets. The language is being developed.

  1. For projects that must to go through the Plan of Development process, that is buildings with five acres or greater and multiple buildings that use height bonuses, there is a limited ability to average the height bonus. If someone builds a first building they must build all the amenities that qualify them for the height bonus. There is no way to ensure the second building is constructed. Bonding has been suggested. Another suggestion, link the tax abatement to the completion of the amenity.
  1. There is a proposal to increase the Active Use area north to Berks Street and south to Mifflin Street. There is a requirement for active uses on first floors facing Columbus Ave. 70% of the frontage must be active use. The active use currently extends from Spring Garden in north to Washington Avenue in the south. There is concern that single-family use is not active. Most of the CDO is in the 100-year flood plain. The prosed solution — If the ground floor use is more than 3’ above the level of the nearest street than it does not count as active use. This solution encourages non-residential uses and limits residential construction because building in the flood plain for residential uses is not allowed. On the Central Delaware, you can’t build residential on the ground floor. If you have to raise the entrance it does not count as residential.
  1. Prohibiting double dipping for multiple height bonuses.

Stringent requirements for public space are up in the air. If the stringent requirements are not approved CDAG will reluctantly fight against the new tiers of height bonus.

City Council Affordable Housing Bill – The Quinonez Sanchez bill is dead. It passed out of Committee in December but did not come up for a vote. Council is looking into an alternative method to promote the construction of affordable housing. They are considering a citywide per square foot impact fee that would put money into the Housing Trust Fund.

Old Business

At the old Trump Tower site the driveway crosses the trail. They have Zoning for 30 plus townhomes. CDAG will contact DRWC regarding the old Trump Tower site excavation.

Motion to Adjourn. Approved