Finally, it seems that the southwest corner of Broad & Ellsworth is moving in the right direction. For those unfamiliar with this property, the adjacent Saint Rita of Cascia Shrine has for years been planning to extend their facility to this vacant parcel. Some years ago, they had a plan in place to renovate a former school building for this purpose, then in 2014 they produced a rendering of a new one-story building with a big surface parking lot in the back. We slammed this plan, lamenting the idea of a one-story building on this South Broad Street corner.
Earlier this year, we were cheered by the news that Saint Rita's was partnering with Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to combine their new facility with affordable housing for seniors. And we were glad to learn that they'd retained Cecil Baker + Partners to do the design work, giving us hope that the new building would not only have some scale but some panache as well. Today, Philly.com provided some new information, shared at last night's South Broad Street Neighborhood Association meeting. The building will have 10K sqft of shrine-related use on the two bottom floors, 62 one-bedroom apartments on the five upper floors, and 8 parking spots dedicated to the shrine. They also included a preliminary rendering with their story.
According to Planphilly, the project got a positive response from the dozen people who attended the meeting, but it's safe to assume that some people in the neighborhood will fight this new version of the project. We don't have a crystal ball, but we'd guess that some people won't appreciate a new building with 62 apartments and zero dedicated parking spots. Maybe some folks will also complain about the height as well. On the other hand, there's a huge need for affordable housing for seniors, and it could get ugly if people dig in against this project. With the understanding that they might have to change the plans, the architects are waiting for additional neighborhood feedback before applying for permits. We'd bet on changes to both the inside and outside of the project before all is said and done.