Unexpected Ridge Avenue Project Will Have All the Parking

There’s a new project in the works at 4401 Ridge Ave., an address that we confess we didn’t really think of as having redevelopment potential. Don’t get us wrong, the location is great, as it’s steps away from the Schuylkill River, about a block from the bottom of Midvale Avenue, and very close to numerous multi-family projects that have sprung up in the last few years. Frankly, we thought that this property was City owned parkland due to its tree-covered state- but that wasn’t the case at all.

Current view
Aerial view of the site

Looking at the history of the property, we see that a chemical plant was once located here, also covering the site to the north which is now residential. Merck had a factory here through the middle of the 20th century, and eventually the Philadelphia Housing Authority built the PHA Schuylkill Falls housing project here, replacing the former industrial use. But the entire site was razed about twenty years ago, with a combination of market rate and new PHA housing getting built in the early 2000s. PHA retained ownership over 4401 Ridge Ave., but as you can see in the photo above, they decided against building on the site, ultimately offering the property up for sale.

Atapco Properties is looking to purchase the property, which covers just under two acres of steep terrain. They are proposing a new apartment building here, with plans calling for 185 apartments, 4,000 sqft of retail at the corner, and 189 (!) parking spots. The parking will cover a sizable portion of the at-grade section of the property and will also go onto a portion of the second floor of the building. The unit mix will be 34 studios, 117 1 bedrooms, and 34 2 bedrooms. Oombra Architects did the design work, and we can share some renderings from the project’s Civic Design Review packet.

Aerial rendering
Rendering viewed from the ground
View from Merrick Road
Rendering from Ridge Ave.

This project looks terrific and we’d be delighted to see it move forward and add to the momentum of new projects along this section of Ridge Avenue. This kind of density is great news for small businesses along Midvale, and should also help businesses along Main Street nearby in Manayunk. If anything, we’d critique the project for providing too much parking, about three times as much as is required by the zoning code.

Unfortunately, the construction of a building on a sloping property triggers a zoning refusal, so the project will need approval from the ZBA if it’s going to move forward. We have to think that the huge parking number is a preemptive effort to garner support from the community. We’ll see if it has the desired effect, even as we question the need for 1:1 parking at a site that’s just a couple blocks from a Regional Rail station.

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