Somehow, we haven't provided any updates on CHOP's Schuylkill Avenue project since April, after they first presented at Civic Design Review. To quickly bring you up to speed, CHOP came to a second CDR meeting with some changes to the project, then they presented to the ZBA and got approval to build the first phase of their massive project.
For the past couple of months, we haven't heard much about the project, but today a reader sent us a flyer they received, notifying them (and us by extension) that work is set to begin soon on the site. The first months will involve the demolition of the buildings that remain, including the former Springfield Beer Distributor and the former JFK Vocational High School.
In their place, in the first phase of the project, we'll soon see an office tower, a promenade at the South Street bridge that leads to an extended Schuylkill River Trail, a large public green space on Schuylkill Avenue that leads to views of the river, and a couple of retail spaces. There will also be parking for 500 cars and a new curb cut on the South Street Bridge. So, yeah. The project will eventually include three additional phases, but CHOP has been reluctant to provide much detail on what those phases will entail and when they'll get built.
At this point, we can only guarantee that traffic is about to get nasty on Schuylkill Avenue, and the neighbors are going to enjoy a few years of construction noise. When the first phase wraps up in 2017, we'll have an improvement on our hands over what we see on the site today, but we suspect that we'll still, like many of the project's critics, wish for something a little bit better.
In the meantime, if you have a crush on the old JFK school, get over there soon. It won't be around for much longer.