As interest in residential real estate in Center City Philadelphia continues unabated, developers are looking for ways to add density in the middle of the streets lined with historic townhouses.
Despite the sprinkling of high-rise building crowns and high-rise condominiums, most of Center City’s housing stock is still Nagaya. They may be taller and wider than their counterparts in Kensington or South Philadelphia, but are consistent with the design / appearance / architecture of the rest of the city.
Today, developers are trying to add density to this historic cityscape on the grounds of a small Nagaya.
Sergio Coscia, Principal of CosciaMoos Architects, said: In Philadelphia. “There is usually a market for more sophisticated products than Philadelphia.”
The Cosia company is trying to convince the Philadelphia History Commission to allow the design of a 10-story, 29-condominium building on 2204 Walnut St. Adjacent buildings are a little less than half the size, but there are other tall multi-family. A building in a block near the site.
CalLeslie’s development by Flamingo Bay Investments is suitable for parcel zoning and no difference is required. However, the plan must be approved by the city’s history committee, as it is located within the Rittenhaus-Fitler historic center.
At a May meeting, the Commission approved the demolition of an empty four-story building on the premises, but voted against Coscia Moos’ design proposal. Members argued that it was too expensive for the white façade to match the “calm earth tones” that dominate the historic buildings in the neighborhood.
Coscia and his team made some adjustments, primarily to the color of the bricks, without sacrificing the size and density of the proposal. They will reappear before the History Commission next month, but have been criticized by the Commission’s Advisory Building Commission for not initially reducing the size of the structure.
“You have more than doubled the height of this existing block,” committee member Amy Stein said at a meeting on July 26. “I think the height overwhelms the other buildings in the area …. it seems too tall and I don’t sympathize with the historical context.”
Coscia argues that the relevant comparison should be 2200 blocks of Walnut itself, not the wider historic district. The 9-story Roosevelt Apartments building is at the western end of the block, and the 11-story Walnut Plaza condo is in the corner of the site. Facing the proposed condominium tower is a suburban Sunoco gas station.
“I don’t think it’s off-scale,” Kosia said. “Look at the gas station across the street. Would you like to do something about it? That’s killing the pedestrian experience. We’re trying to improve it.”
Coscia argues that more density needs to be added to this part of Center City, especially for retail products to be sustainable. The building proposed for 2204 Walnut has a 1,175-square-foot retail store, and Coscia hopes it will eventually become an art gallery.
Under lease Core commercial corridor of walnuts and chestnuts Cosia points out that retail rebounds in the COVID-19 era are struggling on the edge of downtown.
“If you don’t allow more densities, retailing won’t work,” Coscia said. “There aren’t enough people to support small businesses, so the buildings further back in Center City are having a hard time renting space.”
Much of the new housing supply that goes online in Center City is part of major new developments, including: 253 units Laurel in Rittenhouse Square.. But there was also a tendency towards smaller projects that happened in the middle of a row of historic homes. Other recent examples include a 6-storey apartment complex at 262 N. 16th St. next to Monk’s Cafe, or a 10-unit condo at 2110 Walnut.
The History Committee will review the 2204 Walnut St. proposal revised at 9 am on August 12.