Minutes June 2018

June CDAG Board Meeting

Thursday, June 14, 6:00PM

Society Hill Towers Community Room

285 St. James Place

Minutes

Call to Order

SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: DRWC President Joe Forkin

DRWC Transit Study Update:

DRWC has begun a Waterfront Transit Plan and awarded the contract to Four Square Integrated Planning with Interface Studio. They had a kick off meeting to discuss scope, timeline and public outreach. The timeline began with the kickoff meeting and runs through December or January. They are tasked with two things. First: Data collection and mining valuable information in existing transit studies (from DVRPC and DVR Port Authority). Secondly: Coming up with a Long-Range Transportation Plan in consultation with community, stakeholder groups and Septa. Scope will look at connections city-wide including physical improvements and better connections to the waterfront from the city.

Long-term they will consider Columbus Blvd and options including light rail and bus rapid transit. The short-term goal is an immediate plan that can be implemented at the end of this study. At the very least they are considering increasing bus frequency along Columbus Boulevard. They are working directly with Septa to increase the 25-bus frequency. They will consider creating a bus route that runs the six-mile length of the water-front. They will look for opportunities to market and brand the connections to the bus service. The plan is Two-Pronged Plan and includes the goal of implementing improvements within an 8-month period, and secondly — a long-term plan to implement connections back to the city. They will develop a public outreach plan and schedule for meetings with stakeholders, regulatory agencies and the community. The goal is to develop an implementable long-term plan.

The Transit plan is multi-layered, and multi-modal. They will consider bike share, car share, pedestrian options and driverless cars.

New data will be collected as needed including traffic counts. Existing technical data will be evaluated.

There is a working train station within the Ben Franklin Bridge. It was built in 1926 and includes Mosaic tile. The station is inadequate with modern train lengths. Joe wants to open it up.

The Transportation Plan is part of the Master Plan and this study includes all modes of transportation. DRWC owns the ferry system that connects NJ and PA. They also own three water taxis. They are looking at a ticketing system or a pass that works comprehensively for train, bus, water taxi. Can it tie into rideshare?

Light timing on Columbus Boulevard has improved but it is still a problem. Some of the infrastructure needs to be repaired.

Columbus Blvd. is considered the reliever lane for I95 so PENNDOT is reluctant to take away lanes. DRWC would love to slow drivers down on Columbus Boulevard for joggers, trees and pedestrians. DRWC loses a tree a day. Light timing and signage can help to slow traffic down. They want pedestrians to cross the street comfortably and they want families with children to feel safe riding bikes on the boulevard.

DRWC owns the ferries and the taxis. They ran the taxis for two years and had about 4,000 riders a year. Taxi insurance is $30,000/year and the income from riders was not enough to cover the insurance. DRWC is in communication with Coopers Ferry Partnership to increase the seasonal ferry service to year-round commuter service. DRWC received a generous donation from a private developer — Pier 40 North. They are looking at the pier as a potential water taxis stop.

Trail Sections:

In South Philadelphia DRWC has been acquiring land over time. They have acquired all of the land from Pier 70 to Tasker Avenue and Reed to Washington Avenue. On the north side, they have acquired the land between Sugar House through Penn Treaty Park. There are two segments currently in construction. The Pier 70 to Tasker section has a generous width of 50’ and includes trail nodes. Where they can they have expanded into a recreation network. On off-road segments, they separate pedestrians and bikes. The southern segment will be completed in the fall. The northern segment trail goes all the way around the Sugar House casino. The casino was generous enough to build the trail for DRWC. The trail from Sugar House Penn to Treaty Park and Delaware Generating Station down to the Berks Park parcel will be in construction in about a month.

Liberty on the River:

K4 purchased land from the Sheet Metal Union. They have a plan for about 10 buildings and they will be seeking zoning soon. The segment next to it, owned by Tower Investments, has been sub-divided into three parcels. The rear portion was purchased by US Construction and they plan 184 town homes. The Super Wawa application has been withdrawn from the ZBA.

Festival Pier:

The federal funding will be based on ridership and density. Where are the population centers and visitor centers that they can tie into?

Festival Pier development is in federal permitting with the US Army Corp and the National Marine Fisheries. The Commonwealth owns the riverbed. They have collected the title for permitting purposes. Certain areas of the watershed are marked as valuable habits for the American sturgeon. The property is in and Biological Assessment and they are evaluating the property in light of the Endangered Species Act as a breeding ground for sturgeon.

Cherry Street Pier:

Cherry Street Pier is under construction. The property is 55,000 sf, built in 1919 by US government for US Fruit Company. They have studio space for fourteen artists. Rotating markets and a 10,000 sf space for art exhibitions. The entire rear portion will be an open-air park. The launch is scheduled for September.

Pier 34 South:

Pier 34 South is owned by Ensemble and they hired Digsau. They are the group that donated Pier 40 to DRWC and they are looking for financing for Pier 34 South.

West Shipyard:

In 1998 DRWC purchased a 1.68-acre lot that sits between Callowhill, Vine Street and Columbus Blvd. It was called the West Shipyard and it pre-dates William Penn, and is a significant historical site. West Shipyard Preservation Trust did a study in the 1980’s. Recently, DRWC received a grant to evaluate the site. DRWC found a bulkhead and a piece of the ships way. DRWC received an unsolicited proposal for the development of the site. DRWC will release an RFP on June 20, collect proposals and review them in August. The Wood Street Steps are the original steps that led to the waterfront. They expect development to respect and provide connections to the historic elements of the site.

DRWC is committed to preserving the historic elements with private development. There is also interest in creating a historical heritage site that can be a destination for the public good. This is an active historical site. For CDAG to support an historic development plan for Wood Street Steps, we will need a proposal that is an alternative to the private development plan. Stuart Harding is president of the West Shipyard Preservation Trust and a developer. He is working on development plan that will prioritize the historic significance of the site. This is an active historical site and there is a log with extensive information about the history of the site.

Penn’s Landing / I-95 Cap:

PennDot is working on a preliminary engineering study for the land from Chestnut to Walnut, and Front to the River. This is a $225,000,000 project with three components; 1) the Cap, 2) the extension of South Street Bridge from the west side of Columbus Boulevard to the east site and 3) the on-road trail section. DRWC is accelerating the project. They are testing structures to accomplish the plan’s goals including physical and visual connections from the city to the waterfront. The current hump on Chestnut Street blocks views of the river. Construction will commence in 2021. By the 2026 centennial the project will be completed.

DRWC will continue the place making / temporary installations meant to focus attention on the waterfront and draw people to the area. DRWC believes that investment in good quality projects and infrastructure will lead to good quality private development.

New Business

On Delaware Avenue and Fairmount Avenue, north of the Lukoil, Gene Desimone purchased a property and proposed an auto show room with a café and apartments on top. The plan was for a roughly 100’ tall building with 8 stories. It received support from NLNA Zoning. The project has been modified and the new proposal requires variances. Zoning allows a FAR of 500%. He’s going for 13,433%. Zoning includes a 100’ height limit. He’s going for 194’. The CDO requires 40% open space and he is proposing 0% open space. The coordinating RCO is NLNA. When Desimone presents to NLNA Matt will invite CDAG members to the meeting.

Serious threats to the CDO are not coming from legislators. There is still disregard for the CDO from private developers.

Old Business

FNA and Live Nation had an informational meeting including Joe Forkin, Councilmen Squilla and the President of Live Nation to discuss Live Nation moving from Festival Pier. They will schedule additional public meetings. Live Nation may want to move into the gravel lot north of the PECO Power Station. Live Nation will flip the stage to the river so they are not blasting sound to the neighborhood. The North Delaware Overlay, an earlier overlay, prohibits entertainment and assembly. The area is zoned CMX3. They do not feel they can have enough parking on site. They are talking to Sugar House about parking, which is .5 miles away. That distance does not comply with remote parking requirements, which must be within 1,000’ of the venue. From Spring Garden to Penn Treaty Park nightclubs could potentially be a problem.

Joe Volpe still wants to develop the PECO Generating Station into a multipurpose entertainment working office event space.

Live Nation must leave current site when DRWC kicks them out. This may be their last year at Festival Pier. DRWC is trying to help them find a new location.

Motion to Adjourn. Seconded.

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

 

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.

GUESTS AND PRESENTERS INCLUDE

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.

Seconded

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.

DEVELOPMENT PRESENTAION – PEIR 34 and 35
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.

ZONING

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.