You've probably driven, biked, or walked past the large property at 212 N. 8th St. countless times over the years, and like us, perhaps you never paid it much mind. Granted, we're generally predisposed against surface parking lots, but given the location of this property on the edges of Chinatown and Old City, adjacent to the I-676 and a couple blocks from the Ben Franklin Bridge, this one never really bugged us too much. The City, which owns the property, is apparently of the mind that this lot could be put to better use and over the summer issued an RFP to redevelop it. According to a story from Philly.com, two developers responded to the RFP and will present their proposals to the community tonight.
The proposal from Pennrose includes a mix of 55 units of affordable senior housing, 150 market rate apartments, and a Comfort Inn hotel with 147 rooms. With a large section of the property unbuildable because of underground tracks, this concept would include a parking lot with 143 spaces. In addition, Pennrose intends to partner with the Philadelphia Bar Foundation to construct the Equal Justice Center, a 160K sqft office building that would house legal aid organizations that are currently spread across the city. Wallace Roberts and Todd did the design work for this proposal.
Parkway Corp. is behind the alternate proposal, in partnership with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation and Presby's Inspired Life. This vision for the property would include 120 market-rate condos, 60 units of affordable housing for seniors, a green space with exercise equipment for adults and a playground for kids, a hydroponic greenhouse, and a 20K sqft Asian supermarket. Roughly 180 parking spots would also be included, which makes sense given that Parkway is first and foremost a parking company (hence the name). Cecil Baker + Partners did the design work for this one.
With support from PCDC, we have to think that the Parkway proposal has the initial leg up on the Pennrose proposal, but we'd imagine that the City will take the feedback from the community meeting very seriously. If you'd like to find out more about the two concepts for this significant parcel and make your voice heard about which one you prefer, we encourage you to attend the community meeting tonight, March 6th, at 6pm at 1234 Market St. at the Septa Training Center. See you there?