Back in January, we showed you some images of the former Saint Rita's school at Broad & Ellsworth as it was being demolished. At the time, we told you that the Saint Rita of Cascia Shrine next door had plans for the site that once contained the school which were coming to fruition after years of stops and starts.

Saint Rita of Cascia Shrine

Future building site

Originally, the plan here was to renovate the old school building and add on another small structure to create the Cascia Center, "a place of healing, reflection, and assistance for all people." Somewhere along the line, the plans changed. The new version of the project involves the school's demolition (check) and the construction of a one-story structure on the corner with a parking lot in the rear. Not that the original plan was the paradigm of good urbanism, but this new one is so much worse.

Project rendering. Image from Passyunk Post

According to Passyunk Post, the Saint Rita's people presented their plans to the community a few weeks ago. The neighbors didn't care for the design, but the indication from Saint Rita's is that they can't afford to change it at this point. To which we say, hogwash.

What a huge missed opportunity this is! At the very least, they should sell off the section of the parcel currently reserved for a surface parking lot to a developer, and use the windfall to raise the building a story with parking underneath. Even better would be a collaboration with a developer to build a large mixed-use building that includes parking, apartments, commercial space, and the Cascia Center on the building's second floor. With some tax credits, we can fathom the idea of an affordable component to such a project. Wouldn't that be win-win-win?

Amazingly, these lots are only zoned for single family homes. Without City officials propertly upzoning major corridors like Broad Street and Washington Avenue, we'll continue to see dreck like this in the foreseeable future. Thankfully, the ZBA hearing for this project was continued last week. Hopefully, somebody (anybody?!?) will intervene before it goes back and we won't be cursed with a one-story should-have-been building on this corner for the next hundred years.