The intersection where Broad Street meets Washington Avenue should be a trophy intersection in Philadelphia, a proverbial corner of Main and Main. It took a step in the right direction a couple years back when Lincoln Square opened at the northwest corner, adding hundreds of apartments, a supermarket, a Target, a liquor store, and several other businesses to a property that was previously used mostly for surface parking. Despite the apparent success of this development, the even larger property on the northeast corner has remained totally vacant, as it has been for the last couple decades. Well, more accurately, Cirque du Soliel used the property for a few weeks a year for awhile. And there was another prominent, if temporary use that we remember especially fondly.

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Those were the days

Back in 2016, we told you about a plan for this property which would dwarf Lincoln Square, both in terms of height and number of units. The seemingly final iteration of the project from Tower Investments called for retail along Broad Street and Washington Avenue and an elevated “retail village” four stories above street level, a roughly 800-unit tower at Broad & Carpenter, a much smaller 60-unit building along 13th Street, and about a hundred apartments above the retail village. This was to include 625 parking spots as well.

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Previously approved

Despite the fact that the project ultimately won approval, it never moved forward, for whatever reason. Now, it’s coming back with a vengeance, but the project has, unsurprisingly, evolved considerably. The major points are that the height has decreased quite a bit, from 34 floors to a maximum of 15 floors. The unit count has actually gone up, with a total of 1111 units now proposed, but with the number of parking spots is reduced to 417. The raised retail is gone, with all the retail now at street level, with about 60K sqft of total space, anchored by a Giant supermarket at Broad & Carpenter.

We believe the project can be pursued by right, but given its size it will need to go to Civic Design Review and before that it will need to come before the community. Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition has shared renderings of the project in anticipation of a yet unscheduled meeting, and we’re pleased to share them with you. Credit goes to BKV Group for the design work.

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Overhead massing
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First floor plan
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Rendering at the corner
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From the north on Broad Street
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On Washington Avenue, looking west
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Looking south on 13th Street

Though a huge building would have certainly had some appeal at this corner, we think the shorter edifice probably makes more sense and fits in better with the surrounding residential communities. We certainly appreciate that the project will make a push for retail at street level and will also include several outdoor spaces that can be enjoyed by people that don’t live in the building. We also like the way the project steps down in height at 13th Street, considering there are people living in row homes right across the street who are about to see their light and air supplies go down by quite a bit.

Considering the size of the deal, it should come as no surprise that the community group will make some asks of the developer, even if it’s a by-right project. Initial ideas include a push for local hiring, art from local artists, affordable housing, and increased parking. HEC is asking neighbors for additional thoughts about what they can ask of Tower, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll agree to all or any requests if the project is indeed by right. That being said, we imagine the project will go through some nominal changes but something that looks like this will ultimately get built here sometime in the next couple years. When it does, this intersection will take a major step in the right direction, as will the Washington Avenue and the Broad Street corridors.