Demolition on Callowhill Means a Big Project is Coming

A couple of readers have reached out in recent weeks, wondering about some recent demolition on the south side of the 900 block of Callowhill Street. The property at 900 Callowhill St. was previously populated by a collection of one-story warehouses that were used for the storage and sale of building supplies, but all of the buildings have been razed and it's now a vacant 35K sqft parcel on the Chinatown-Callowhill border.

In the past

Current view

So… what's happening here? At this point, we confess that we aren't entirely sure.

Back in February, developers presented plans at Civic Design Review for a pair of mixed-use buildings with a courtyard in between them. The plans called for 146 apartments, 12 retail spaces on Callowhill Street, and 79 underground parking spots. According to Plan Philly, the CDR presentation was met with some considerable resistance from the committee, with one member calling the plans "scary" and "amateurish." Criticisms included the narrow sidewalks, the unclear plans for the courtyard space, awkward loading zones, and poor accessibility for the disabled. The committee asked for the developers to come back with some changes to the project, but we couldn't tell you whether that happened. So all we have to go on at this point are these renderings from the CDR submission.

The project

Another view

View from above

Without question, this would be a major step up for this property, given its recent history. And on its face, the project makes all kinds of sense as it will add new residents to an area that's on the rise with the Rail Park coming very soon. And hey, let's hear it for underground parking! On the other hand, we aren't sure that we understand the thought behind a dozen little retail spaces on Callowhill Street- is there really so much demand for retail in this area? Also, the design seems a wee bit basic to us.

Assuming this project moves forward as it was presented at CDR almost a year ago, how do you feel about it? Do you like the concept? The scale? The density? The design? If you like the project, what do you appreciate about it? If you're not a fan, what would you change?