In late summer of last year, we were happy to tell you about a huge, $50-million grant which was slated to revamp Bartram Village, the public housing complex immediately next to Bartram’s Garden and a host of other empty industrial sites and train tracks. Back then, the plans were only conceptual, with hopes to create a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood which would bring over 600 total units – along with 500 affordable units – to this reimagined area. As you can see below, this vision involved creating a brand-new neighborhood along the southern banks of the Schuylkill River.

A current aerial of the garden-style present of the Bartram Village area
The future would see a completely reimagined neighborhood

Now, thanks to a submission for an upcoming Civic Design Review meeting, we have the first tangible info on what’s in store. Let’s first check out the property at 2639 S. 58th St., which sits off Lindbergh Blvd. as an overgrown brownfield site that reaches from 57th to 58th. As you can see from ground level, this parcel isn’t exactly teeming with excitement currently (even if there is plenty of foliage).

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An aerial of the first phase of the project
Looking towards the river along S. 57th St. today
A view from the middle of the property

But that parcel will have a very different future soon enough, with 64 units coming to the site across five buildings. Two new roads will be included, one cutting through the middle of the site, and one towards the riverside, along with 36 parking spaces. One of the buildings will also include a community room, a management office, and a workshop space, presumably for residents. These buildings will utilize modular construction and will rise only two stories for the most part, with small areas on the corners rising a third story. A mix of one- through four-bedroom units will be available, allowing for larger families and multiple generations to cohabitate under one roof.

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Site plan shows the building layout and new roads
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A look at the varied unit sizes included in the plans
An elevation drawing of building one shows the two-story-plus-one approach

The designs from WRT are quite playful for a low-rise, modular building. Brick and paneling will predominate, with renderings suggesting pops of various colors across the doors of the buildings. Walkways and landscaping will further push the project’s goals to add connectivity and green space to the area, creating a place that’s both lovely and livable.

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An aerial rendering of the five-building first phase
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The future view looking down the new street in the middle of the complex
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Looking along 57th at the new community space

While we would have loved to see a little more height and density, this seems like a pretty good start to what will be a truly transformative project for the area. Bringing in more residents to this park-adjacent spot is certainly a good thing in our book, especially as it is replacing an abandoned industrial property. The design is cute without being precious, and the inclusion of brick on the facades will go a long way toward making everything feel more permanent and cohesive. With no basements and the forthcoming modular building technique, this should move very quickly once things are approved and the site is cleared, starting the influx of hundreds of affordable homes. But before we go, we have to take a quick look to the southeastern neighbor.

The Wat Khmer Palelai temple just next door

It’s not often you see a golden temple along the Schuylkill, so we had to take a peek. The Wat Khmer Palelai temple was founded back in the 1980s, with this particular parcel acquired back in 2010, and it has slowly been under construction since then. Per their Facebook page, this glorious temple was finished up just recently, providing an amazing gathering spot for the Buddhist community in the area (which enjoyed a New Year’s celebration just days ago). And thankfully, before long, this community will welcome some new neighbors.