delaware waterfront

On Callowhill Street, Not Columbus Blvd.

Over the weekend, we noticed a sign posted at the corner of Columbus Blvd. and Callowhill St., advertising a townhome project called Callowhill Court. And as we told you yesterday, we were concerned about this sign because we thought that it meant curtains for the Renaissance Plaza project, and we prepared ourselves for a sea of townhomes on the Delaware waterfront. After a quick conversation with one of the realtors listed on the sign though, we realized that the sign actually refers to a project happening at 10 Callowhill St., a property just around the corner. A one story building stood there until a few months ago.

View from a few months ago

Current view

Developers bought this 4,800 sqft parcel last summer and are now planning to build four homes on this property. And looking at the listings that went up recently, we see that these are gonna be some pretty impressive homes. The largest homes will clock in at 4,800 sqft, with 4 bedrooms, 3 full bathrooms, 2 half bathrooms, and 2 car parking. List price is $1.7M. A second home is listed for a mere $1.35M and will only have 3,600 sqft of living space and a 1-car garage. Check out these renderings to get an idea of what we can expect to see here.

Or will we continue to wait?

400 N. Columbus Blvd. has all the potential in the world. It's huge, spanning about five and a half acres. It's right on the Delaware waterfront. It's easily accessible from both Old City and Northern Liberties. But for as long as we can remember, it's been sitting half vacant, with the other half occupied by a storage facility that would be much better if it was someplace else. So... what's the deal here?

Overhead view

You may not remember, but this property was slated for development as World Trade Square, a massive mixed-use development that would have meant four enormous buildings with a mix of apartments and office space and over 2,000 parking spots to boot. That project was in the works for years before a City Council ordinance restricting height on the waterfront combined with the 2008 economic downturn submarined the project.

27 units right near the waterfront

We were looking throught the zoning calendar for this month and we were surprised to see that the property at 614 N. Front St. is scheduled for a ZBA hearing in the coming weeks. Currently, this double wide property is half one-story building and half two-story building, though we couldn't tell you how it's been used over the years. If you appreciate the building, we suggest you visit soon because it seems it isn't long for this world.

Current view

Developers bought the property at the end of last year and are now planning a six story apartment building here, with 27 apartments and 17 parking spots on the first floor. As this project is going to the ZBA, it needs to come before Northern Liberties Neighbors Association, but we didn't find it on any neighborhood zoning meeting agenda from the last six months. It's possible we missed it though, does anyone remember a community meeting for this project? If so, can anyone tell us how it went?

Units will have easy access to Dave and Busters

Whether you're laying bricks for a new row home or painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, you're gonna need some scaffolding to reach those areas that sit more than the first few feet off the ground. And that scaffolding needs to come from somewhere. Many builders (and famous Renaissance artists), get their scaffolding from Eastern Scaffolding, located for many years on Front Street, in the shadow of an I-95 onramp. But a zoning notice recently appeared at their address at 408 N. Front St., indicating that the scaffolding business is out and apartments are in.

Still pretty much the same as before, with slight redesign

Roughly three years ago, we considered the case of 1401 S. Columbus Blvd., wondering how the site would be redeveloped after plans for a casino were officially 86-ed. Two years later, we confirmed that Tower Investments had purchased the property and Bart Blatstein was considering a plan for a shopping center, some apartment buildings, and a bunch of townhomes and stacked condos on the waterfront. If you pass by this address today though, you'll see that nothing has actually changed.

View of the site

Here's a look at the plan that we published last year, which calls out a Wawa gas station and an Aldi supermarket. We got a number of comments on the project, with some people generally in favor of the plan, and a greater number of people disappointed with the proposal.

Honestly we don't know what would be the right plan for this location

Before the bubble burst on the economy back in 2008, there were a ton of development proposals on the boards. Some of them were eventually built, but many never made it past the planning stages. One such project concerned 709 Penn St., also known as Pier 35 1/2, and came from a company affiliated with some dude currently running for President.

Rendering of the Trump Tower

The Trump Tower would have risen up to 45 stories and was to include 225 apartments. Tennis courts, too. And a cigar lounge, of course. But... none of it happened. According to a report from the Inquirer, new owners stepped in earlier this year, paying only $2.4M for the 2+ acre site. This parcel came to our attention recently when we noticed signs on the property advertising that it's for sale. And it can be yours, for the low price of $12.5M!

Lots of dirt moving around

Last fall, we gave you the lowdown on Bridgeview at the Waterfront, a residential development of 75 new homes at 787 Swanson St., which was to replace a large overgrown vacant lot on the edge of Queen Village. The months went by, and the project went to the community. Then it went to Civic Design Review. Finally, it went to the ZBA in December, and the developers got their variances, despite the protests of some near neighbors. We passed by the site last week, and discovered that work is underway.

Envision the Philadelphia's eastern edge bordered by a natural boundary of parks and green spaces, wetlands and piers, trails and marinas, and you can begin to understand the overarching principles of the Plan for the Central Delaware to create a 30-acre green space along the Delaware waterfront.

To add to the recent flow of grant money it has received, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation recently received a $5M grant from the William Penn Foundation that will, in part, help to develop Pier 68, located next to the shopping center on Columbus Blvd. containing Walmart and Old Navy.

To be developed

“We want to sort of bookend that side of South Philadelphia,” said Lizzie Woods, DRWC project manager.

Based on what DRWC heard from the community during meetings the past two years, there is a demand to create a more physically active green space at Pier 68, now a concrete bastion, including a high demand for space to fish. In 2011, DRWC acquired Piers 64, 67, 68 and 70 with the help of a Department of Conservation and Natural Resources grant, according to Woods. A study found that Pier 68 presented the most viable option for immediate development.

As we briefly mentioned the other day, the folks from Philly Fringe and Live Arts Festival were recently awarded a $400K grant from ArtPlace America. This grant will contribute to the development of an outdoor plaza adjacent to the former pumping station now being renovated to serve as the Fringe Festival’s home at Race Street and Columbus Boulevard in the shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

While new playground improvements are scheduled for Penn Treaty Park, the Fishtown waterfront park at Columbia and Delaware Avenue immediately north of Sugarhouse, the improvements are only part of a larger long-term redevelopment plan envisioned for the park where William Penn signed a treaty with the Lenni-Lenape Indians in the seventeenth century.

And while plans are moving forward to modernize the playground on the northern edge of the park, they will lack the kind of creativity and innovation suggested in the Penn Treaty Park Master Plan completed by Studio Bryan Hanes in 2009, in collaboration with the park's friends group.