Most people would agree that a large casino would have been a pretty terrible use for the large tract of land on Columbus Blvd. between Reed and Tasker Streets. And thankfully, after years of legal challenges and community pushback, the ill advised Foxwoods project fell through in 2010. The site that would have been Foxwoods has been sitting vacant ever since.
Tower Development bought the property back in 2014, and at the time, we wondered what kind of project to expect for this enormous property. A couple years later, we told you that Tower had come up with a plan to build a mix of apartment buildings and commercial buildings with large surface parking lots on the western side of the site, and a low-rise residential development on the east side of the parcel, adjacent to the river. About a year ago, we checked back in on the project and discovered some minor changes to the plan, and found out about many of the tenants for the commercial aspect of the property.
Recently, we learned that Tower had sold the eastern section of the project to US Construction, a developer that’s built gobs of town homes in Philadelphia over the last several years. With a new developer now in charge of this section of the site, there have been further changes to the original plan. According to the CDR presentation for the project, the developers are planning two phases of construction, with 169 homes and 367 parking spaces representing the first wave of the development. In addition, there will be multiple green spaces between rows of homes, and a 3,000 sqft cafe next to the river. A second phase, which we’d think would be several years away, would entail another 45 homes on a pier that extends into the river, roughly 15K sqft of outdoor recreational facilities, and a sizable community center. Check out these renderings, from Atrium Design Group:
We want to hate this project, but we might be talking ourselves into it. Yes, the sea of parking associated with the western project will be terrible, not improving the already unfriendly pedestrian experience on Columbus Boulevard. And a Wawa gas station would further run counter to any urbanist’s vision for the Delaware waterfront. But if we forget about the huge parking lot and the gas station for a minute, the town home aspect doesn’t offend us. The homes look like they’ll be ultra-contemporary, as we’d expect from this architect. The plans call for an easement for the Delaware River trail, which would connect two sections and result in a more complete amenity for the public. Also, the planned amenities along the waterfront, whether for residents or the general public, would increase public engagement with the waterfront and maybe even encourage people to take a dip in the Delaware. And maybe by the time the project is done, that won’t even be such a bad idea.
What do you think about the project? Do you like the idea of town homes right on the water? Or would you prefer a taller, more dense project, like the building that’s proposed a few blocks to the north? Will the nearby gas station and Wal- Mart turn off potential residents? Or will the new neighborhood, pretty much created from whole cloth, and the location on the waterfront, override the negatives of the surrounding commercial properties? Certainly, it seems this developer is betting big that people will want to live here, and pay a premium for the experience.