Back in the spring of 2015, news emerged that Alterra Property Group had 309 S. 5th St. under agreement, causing great alarm in Society Hill that the long-tenured supermarket at this location would be demolished. This fear was entirely founded, as Alterra was looking to build a mixed-use project which would certainly not include a supermarket on the first floor. After negotiations that included the Society Hill Civic Association and Councilman Squilla's office, Alterra reconsidered the project and engaged Acme in negotiations for a long term lease. That was about a year ago.
It seems those negotiations didn't go very well. Last month, Alterra received a conditional zoning permit to demolish the building and replace it with a mixed-use building with 65 apartments over 5 stories, ground-floor retail, and 43 underground parking spots. This project appears to be by-right, gaining 15 feet of allowable height due to a "fresh market" bonus provided by the zoning code, and gaining additional density because of a green roof bonus. This information comes from a SHCA notice that went up today, which also indicates that the project is under appeal with a hearing date to be determined.
Without looking carefully at the plans for the project, we won't speculate on the chances for success in this appeal. Assuming it succeeds, we suspect the developers will reengage with Acme and the neighborhood market will remain. If it fails, the project will still have to go before CDR and the Historical Commission, but we'd guess its construction will become a foregone conclusion.
What do you think? Does a mixed-use building make sense here? Or would you prefer seeing the neighborhood supermarket stick around?