Just yesterday, we told you about a court ruling that stated that developers could demolish the former home of the Painted Bride and replace it with a condo building with 16 units. Perhaps inspired by this news, a reader reached out to us with information about another potential project that’s currently percolating on the same block. Let’s turn our attention today to the surface parking lot at 214-20 Vine St., noting that the property has been used as such since at least the 1980s. Given our general distaste for surface parking lots in desirable parts of town, we were positively tickled to learn that this site will likely be developed in the near future.
Sure, that’s a nice wrought iron fence, but let’s get real. A surface parking lot at 2nd & Vine is far from the highest and best use for this property. We’d say a six-story apartment building with 29 units would be a much better choice. And what do you know, that’s exactly what’s being proposed! The proposal is by right, from what we can tell, but because it’s within the Old City Historic District, it will need approval from the Historical Commission. Moto Designshop is the architect for the project (and incidentally is based on this very block), and their sweet looking design might need some changes before Historic signs off.
The initial response from a staff member at Historic indicates as much, with comments noting that the “building’s design elements, such as its undulating facade, rhythm and height of fenestration, and incorporation of balconies, do not reference the district’s architecture.” The staffer further suggests that red brick might be a better choice than the proposed dark grey, and opines that the building doesn’t achieve compatibility with the historic buildings in the district. We can certainly agree that the building would stick out from the rest of the historic district, but we’d also argue that this isn’t the worst thing in the world given its location on the edge of the district and the mix of buildings on the block.
In the end, we feel fairly confident that this project will get built, even if the architecture has to go through some changes to make it through the Historical Commission. We hope that whatever changes occur, the building will maintain its bump-outs, which will make it one of the more unique facades in the area and probably in all of Center City. Frankly, we need more undulating facades in this town, and we’d be delighted to see one appear on this block sometime very soon.