Blatstein unveils preliminary plans for Broad and Washington project

Nearby neighbors and concerned residents packed a room last night at the Hawthorne Cultural Center to hear the development plans for the long-vacant corner of Broad and Washington Ave. straight from the man himself, Bart Blatstein.

NE Corner of Broad and Washington (via Beyer Blinder Belle, Photo: James Jennings)
NE Corner of Broad and Washington (Renderings via Beyer Blinder Belle, Photos: James Jennings)

Early reports had this development as a “vertical Piazza” type project packed with one million square feet of space. What we learned last night is that the plans have changed just a little bit.

Blatstein explained that his interest in this particular lot goes back 30 years to when he first started in the business, calling it the “gateway to Center City” while also noting it was “bizarre” that it had sat for so long. Plans originally called for a 450,000 square-foot retail facility filled with big box stores. Now, Blatstein said that they’re planning 210,000 square-foot of retail, including a grocery store, restaurants, definitely a bike shop and even a large space for a retailer with its own dedicated parking area.

When prodded during the Q/A session, Blatstein confirmed the grocery was not a Wegman’s, saying he “begged” to get them to come but they won’t. Sorry, folks. A resident in attendance mentioned they would like to see local hiring, and Blatstein assured the man that jobs will go to locals first. “We pay particular attention to the needs of the community,” he said.

The residential component is in flux. Blatstein mentioned that they plan to construct two residential towers in two separate phases that would soar 20- to 28-stories above the 4-story retail. That puts the building around 33-stories off the ground. According to Blatstein, the market will determine how many units are in each tower — it could be anywhere between 500 to 800 units in each one.

These are early designs and are likely to change over time.

The first phase calls for the construction of a residential tower on the NW corned of the lot at Broad and Carpenter St. If all goes well, the second phase at the corner of 13th and Washington Ave. would see a second tower built. Blatstein said they would be a mix of studio/1-bedroom (75%) and 2-bedroom (25%) units, ranging from “mid to high teens” in monthly rent. There will not be any affordable housing units in the project, due to the fact that there is no public money being used for the development.


The private terrace/deck area would house some interesting amenities. For starters, the perimeter would boast a walking track. There would also be a pool, a private dog park and what looks like a grassy area.

Blatstein said they’d look to create variety in the storefronts, giving the illusion that it isn’t one large structure.

The room at the Hawthorne Cultural Center was packed for the presentation and Blatstein answered all questions that were asked of him. The main issues centered around density and parking. Blatstein contends that the density is needed to sustain the amenities and that the 710 interior, unseen parking spots make it a “non-issue” for the project. He did mention that each tenant of the potential 1,000 to 1,600 units will have the option to have a space at the complex, noting that the trend for the targeted demographic is to go car-less and walk or bike. Blatstein confirmed that the lot directly to the east of larger lot could potentially be used for overflow parking, although this project will be highly transit-oriented as it’s right on the Broad Street Line and near several bus lines.

Here are the preliminary floors plans for the project (please excuse the poor quality):





If all goes according to plan, the project is expected to break ground “sometime before June 2015.”

45 thoughts on “Blatstein unveils preliminary plans for Broad and Washington project

  • November 18, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Towers are meh but the store fronts look better than I thought they would.

    Can’t wait for the parking / shadow / should be two stories / I got mine, forget you NIMBY sh*tstorm coming.

  • November 18, 2014 at 9:49 am

    Looks awesome! Love all the store fronts.

  • November 18, 2014 at 9:51 am

    This should be great. Sorely needed at that intersection… it’s been empty far too long.

  • November 18, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Interesting… a little disappointing not to have the “public square” type assets that the Piazza has but I suppose we’ll have to find other opportunities in the neighborhood for that kind of thing. It appears the interior area is going to be all parking and the grocery store judging from the ground floor plan.

    I wish I could have made it to this event. Does anyone know what the preliminary square footage of the grocery store is? And will there be entrance/exit doors to the grocery store on 13th or will that be a blank (or hopefully windowed, at least) wall? I see grocery access (if I’m reading it right) from Washington Ave but no indication of what the 13th Street side will look like aside from the residential lobby. Any indication, if not Wegmans, of what the likely grocery store tenant is?

    Kinda wish they’d consider luring a Best Buy or a Bed, Bath and Beyond, or Crate and Barrel to that spot instead. There are examples in other cities of urban versions of those stores that make provisions such as free delivery to keep people from having to drive to buy larger items. Would prefer that over another Pathmark.

    • November 18, 2014 at 10:37 am

      A bigger trader Joes would be awesome but not sure if thats what they envision in an area that touches a lot of different neighborhoods. I see it more likely as a fresh grocer / superfresh kind of thing. Wegmans would have been a dream.

      A Target would work well even with the one in S. philly. It’d be walkable for a lot more people.

      What happened to the movie theater or did I miss that part? Would be nice to have an option thats not gross riverview

    • November 18, 2014 at 10:40 am

      From what I can remember, the 13th street side will be an “internal” loading dock for the grocery store/retail. The idea being that all the loading activity will be hidden from the street. They also mentioned the possibility of having a green wall to cover the loading dock.

      • November 18, 2014 at 11:29 am

        The floor plan pictured makes it look like Carpenter Street is the loading area.

    • November 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      I’m glad there’s no piazza plaza. That space is about as exciting as watching congress not work.

  • November 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

    The Piazza turned Northern Liberties into a college campus with cheaply built apartments and an obnoxious bar crowd. Id hate to that happen to the Hawthorne area or South Philly. It would be a shame for them to lose their peaceful neighborhood charm

    • November 18, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Would be nice to have some of the other amenities… a “town square”-type pedestrian plaza ringed by cafes and restaurants that has some kind of staging area/big screen for neighborhood gatherings and events. Perhaps with less dorm-like apartments that command a higher rent to avoid the college campus effect. A more “adult” version of the Piazza in Northern Liberties.

      • November 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm

        The cheaply built apartments with paper walls did not equal inexpensive rent. The current Piazza rent is very expensive for living and the retail spaces. A lot of stores restaurants have had to close due to the expense. I’m a real estate agent and quite familiar with Bart’s work

      • November 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

        As someone who used to live near the Piazza, I pray that this project doesn’t get the same “public plaza” treatment. Unless you like people making day trips from the suburbs to drink and then spending the evening vomiting/screaming/defecating while camped on your front steps.

        • November 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

          I’m not sure if that will happen so much here… the Piazza has the misfortune of being close to the Ben Franklin bridge whereas this location may be a little more challenging for the NJ/Delco folks who are often afraid to wander Center City outside of Rittenhouse and Old City.

        • November 18, 2014 at 3:08 pm

          Perhaps to rephrase… it would be nice if we could take essentially what East Passyunk Avenue has… ground floor retail and restaurant, 2nd and 3rd level residential (and maybe 4th or 5th level) with sidewalk seating in some places and the activity that we get on a typical spring, summer, early fall evening or weekend… and “ring it” around a car-free area.

          We have the a “piazza” of sorts already in South Philly… the problem is that there’s a wide swatch of concrete running down the middle with cars running up and down! Imagine what the fountain area at Tasker could be like if it were somehow permanently closed to car traffic.

      • November 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm

        I think it’d be nice if something of a porch or plaza opened north, facing into the park there.

  • November 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

    I’m pretty sure the main pedestrian grocery entrance is on 13th, and the internal loading bay is on carpenter.

    • November 18, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Yeahhhh I was wrong about it being on 13th. Thanks for clarifying!

      • November 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

        Cool… having a main entrance on 13th is a nice touch. One of these sides was going to lose out as the “loading area”… Carpenter would seem to be the least harm since, in my experience, it seems to be the least traveled by foot.

  • November 18, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I wish they would let neighbors buy a membership at that pool!!!!!!

    • November 18, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      I just use the free one across the street.

    • November 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Developers views of neighbors are not so inclusive as you may hope. As a matter of fact, they view neighbors as some excludable rabble that they feel should be brushed aside… I suspect they’ll keep all neighbors out as best they could.

  • November 18, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Like the idea ..though how much housing do we need..there are so many unoccupied units as it is in the cc area.. Also really disappointed on no Wegman’s ..they were begged yet they still said no? Love that store but what’s with the snobby addy-tood?? Why not?

    • November 19, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Occupancy rates are actually *very* high in Center City. So not sure what you’re talking about w/r/t “unoccupied units.”

    • November 19, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Wegmans doesn’t have any stores in buildings they don’t own, they also don’t have many (or any that I know of) in urban areas. It’s not snooty, its just their business plan and boy does it work. I really wish there was one here, it would print money they would get so much business.

  • November 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great if he donated a sufficient sized space in the new building to the South Philly Food Co op? A little giving back to the community would be a great! Plus, I can see having a co op in the building as a draw for potential residents.

    • November 20, 2014 at 11:05 am

      Great idea!

  • November 18, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Sooooo..the public pool that is ALREADY across the street is not good enough for these people?

    • November 19, 2014 at 8:06 pm

      Yeah they wanna stay cloistered within their utopia…

      • November 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm


  • November 18, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Regarding public space and amenities, it’d be great to work with the development to enhance the park and pool across Carpenter St and the tennis and basketball courts at the Cultural Center. Residents of the building may like their internal features, but I’d expect that they’d also enjoy the options already in the neighborhood.

  • November 18, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    I have no problem with Williamsburging this part of Philadelphia.

  • November 18, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    It’s pretty disheartening to hear the previous projects of his are of poor quailty, especially at this magnitude of units. And why so many studios and one bedrooms? Why not more 2 and even 3-bedroom apartments to better the chance of keeping our neighborhood family oriented rather than the much younger (and partying crowd).

    • November 19, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      Good questions…

  • November 19, 2014 at 9:21 am

    Any talk of timeline? How many steps are left before we know what we are getting?

    • November 19, 2014 at 10:19 am

      It could start before June of 2015. This was just the first public meeting regarding the project. I would expect a few more.

  • November 19, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Bart’s vision of a building in which tenants will have everything they want and won’t need to leave, is incredibly anti-social and isn’t possible anyway. It’s wrong for the city. Modernist planners have been trying this for a hundred years and have yet to succeed. This project offers nothing new to that discourse. It’s an old tired idea. Fortunately, this plan has public spaces on the ground (mostly retail in this case) and residential above, which is the basic building block of a vibrant city.

    75% one-bedroom/studios is too much. Millenials are making families and want to stay in the city. They are the future.

    • November 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

      I don’t love everything about this project, but the city really doesn’t have an excess of one bedroom/studio apartments. It does have plenty of 2-3 bedroom rowhouses which are perfect for families.

      • November 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm

        I agree. The row-house is pretty ideal for families. We don’t have a ton of affordable, modern small apartments. We have a fair number of row-house conversions which come in a variety of levels of niceness, but not nearly enough.

        And to all the people complaining about having amenities in-building: that is what gets people to pick a place. They won’t have EVERYTHING in the building. They will still leave for work, they will still leave to go to bars, and to go clothes shopping, games, activities etc. They may decide they don’t like the services in the building and go to a different grocery store, italian market, RTM, etc. I think its absurd to think they wouldn’t be a part of the community just because they live in a tall building.

        Finally, the dense, high-rise living is a great way for young people to make friends and network upon arriving in a city. I am still friends with people from my apartment building that I lived in when I first arrived in the city, 10 years ago.

    • November 19, 2014 at 10:05 pm

      I think the idea of having everything won’t prevent people from leaving. If people are paying for a private pool, dog park, and gym; and if they have a target, restaurant, and bike shop in their building, they’ll still leave come to and from the building, walk the neighborhood, visit local shops and parks, and hopefully meet their neighbors. I could see this being great for the Cultural Center (lots of great classes, basketball courts, tennis courts), store fronts in 777, underutilized spaces along Washington, empty shops on the nearby corners (see 13th and Christian, 13th and Webster, 13th and Carpenter, 12th and Christian). I do wish it were more oriented toward ownership (condos vs apartments), and maybe the apartment boost will lead to the row houses going back to single families instead of 3 and 4 apartments, and maybe people will move into the neighborhood as a single, rent from this building, start a family and buy one of those rowhomes!

  • November 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Zoned CMX-5. Skyscrapers by-right.

  • November 19, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Wow. As someone living 7 blocks from there the past 17 years you’d think I might have heard the meeting last night was happening.

    The towers are hideous. B. needs to get some fresh talent. If he’s serious about making it look like a gateway, it shouldn’t replicate the 1965 Beirut look of the Piazza.

    On side notes: there should be more than the usual sidewalk width. Every place in town is overrun with tables and chairs outside and sliding between tables 16 inches apart needs to stop. I like the plaza are in the NE corner, but it would be nice to have at least a walkway from Washington or Broad to access it.

    • November 19, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      Pedestrian bridge would be cool here. And lend a kind of “gateway” vibe to the place… Also encourage the suburban people moving there to come out and not be shy… Walk the neighborhood surroundings a bit..

      Peninsulas on each corner jutting out into Broad Street would NOT be good…

  • November 24, 2014 at 12:14 am

    I like the plan for 75% 1bed and studio. Families move into row homes.

  • November 24, 2014 at 10:53 am

    yay. just what we need. more “2000 a month rent for a closet sized apartment” buildings.

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