No Puppets or Pallets at Avenue V

It was less than a month ago that we brought 408 Cecil B. Moore Ave. to your attention, noting a zoning application for 146 residential units, 4 retail spaces, and 52 parking spaces. We didn’t have much more information at the time, aside from the strong assumption that this project would mean the relocation or end of the line for the pallet business at the property. We also wondered whether the company developing the property was at all related to the developer pursuing a project on the north side of the street, on property that was also once used by the aforementioned pallet business.

View at Germantown & Cecil B.

As is often the case, many of our questions have been answered, thanks to the magic of Civic Design Review. The developer for this project will be presenting their plans at CDR on August 7th, and the posted presentation answers so many questions. First, we’ve learned that Riverwards Group is the developer behind this project. We probably should have thought about this possibility sooner, as they’ve built numerous projects in Fishtown, East Kensington, and South Kensington, and this project clearly fits with their geographic preferences. Not only do we see the identity of the developer, we also now know how they intend to organize the site.

Project site plan

The developers have dubbed this project Avenue V, perhaps because they’re dividing the site into two V-shaped sections with a large drive/parking aisle in between. Each section will wrap around a courtyard which will be open to residents of the development and people in the neighborhood alike. The developers are thinking of these courtyards, which will be a mix of green space and paved space, as locations for informal gathering and organized community events. Ostensibly, people looking to do this kind of thing but with the accompaniment of a four-legged buddy will have the option of cruising half a block to the north, to the new dog park associated with the development across the street.

As for the residential part of the project, it will consist of a mix of buildings, with 120/146 of the units located in 4-story quadplexes. The rest of the units will be sprinkled among a triplex and four mixed-use buildings. The largest retail space will be located at Germantown & Cecil B., with the other three commercial spaces located along 5th Street. As there’s not a ton of resident-friendly retail in the immediate area (with apologies to Saint Benjamin’s) and there’s a few hundreds units planned nearby, we can appreciate the need for these commercial spaces. Take a look at the renderings for the project, thanks to KJO Architecture.

Rendering at Germantown & Cecil B
Rendering at 5th & Cecil B
Courtyard rendering
Drive aisle
Overhead view
View from a balcony

One other noteworthy aspect of this project is that the units will be listed for sale, not for rent, as you might expect. This is an interesting approach the developers are taking, in a neighborhood that’s seeing several large apartment buildings in the recent past and the near future, and it will also provide them with a different offering than the costly new homes that we’ve seen in the area. Also worth noting, the developers are offering 14 of the units at prices below market value, to families earning up to 80% AMI. Those units will be listed at prices ranging from $136K to $205K, according to the CDR packet. We don’t know what to expect in terms of list price for the other units in the development, but looking at the condo project around the corner at 6th & Montgomery, it seems like $225K would be a reasonable starting point.

  • Karig2

    So, in many ways, it looks like Philadelphia is becoming home to the modern tenement-style building of old. I’d much rather have a mid or hi-rise, with open space, or something a lot less regular and boxy. These have large footprints and are so damn boring, it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to live there.

    • ZH Bizzle

      KJO Architecture is doing approximately 97% of the boring, boxy, large-scale apartment complexes in the Kensington neighborhoods. Better than a vacant lot and I appreciate any development at this point, but their formula isn’t evolving at all.

    • That Guy

      No, leave the residential neighborhoods like this the way they are in terms of scale. Not every square inch of developable land in the city need be a high-rise. Which are over-wrought at this point and come with them a host of other quality of life issues. Human-scaled urban residential districts. You can have new towers in Callowhill which is much closer to CC and that kind of scale. Mid-rise, small apartment houses, and rowhomes will suit these neighborhoods fine and maybe actually encourage further growth outwards into adjacent neighborhoods instead of concentrating all of that impact in one area.

      • chris

        Philadelphia hardly has a high-rise problem.

        • jimco

          No, but there are countless spots better than 5th and cecil b for one to go up. I could take it or leave it with this proposal but, for what it’s worth, they gave a much better pitch to skcp than most stuff that comes through south kensington these days (where literally thousands of units are coming on line now and in the near future).

        • eldondre

          Philadelphia’s high rise problem is one of costs.

    • chris

      But it will ruin the neighborhood! (sarcasm). I agree, so many wasted opportunities. People still can’t get it through their heads that a 10-16 story building with a small footprint has much less of an impact than a 4 story extra large shoebox…. Philadelphia mentality unfortunately.

    • bem

      The Density Goons will come for you – they think everything HAS to be Manhattan so it fits thier fantasy of urban living

  • NFA

    Hate the “drive aisle”… it makes it look like a highway motel… there’s got to be a better way of doing the parking. Everything else looks pretty food, if not a tad dull.