Thursday, December 14, 2006

Philadelphia's next big building vision

Both daily papers have big stories today about "Philadelphia River City," an ambitious project that aims to put up some dozen buildings of residential, office, and entertainment space over a 10-15-year period in the area just north of JFK Boulevard and adjacent to the Schuylkill. The news stories (Inky here and DN here) focus on how much taller this development is than the Logan Square neighborhood to the north, and on the negative reaction of that local Neighborhood Association to the proposal (asking for variances before the designs are finalized). However, it seemed to me that these buildings would be somewhat more continuous if viewed in the context of the immense towers already present along Market and JFK, not to mention the ambitious plans of Penn and pals on the west side of the same river.

To get more info and perhaps some deeper description of the project itself, I turned for expert opinion to PhillySkyline, which has done a great job of covering all sorts of large construction proposals around the city. Turns out Brad did a great overview of the project back in September (you may need to reload the link to end up in the right spot), looking at what this space represents in context, what the project would offer, and all the unknowns along the way. Among the assets of the plan, he notes
retail where there is currently nothing, public access to the Schuylkill River Park where there is currently controversy with CSX, a muffler over CSX's noisy, stinky trains, two hotels in a city that is sorely underserved, an Olympic sized pool, a skating rink, a Jetsons-age people mover from River City across the river and to 30th Street Station, and a totally changed skyline
Also helpful is the version of the site sketch included there, as it is a view from the NW that shows how naturally this project links up with the other JFK buildings. I don't blame the neighbors for their concerns (more on that here), but it seems like this might be a pretty good start on the inevitable development of Philadelphia's major downtown strip and of the linkage between Center City and West Philly that is a dream of many. I'll be intrigued to hear more as the developers clarify their ideas.


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