Inga Saffron slams Blatstein’s two huge South Philly projects

With two large projects from developer Bart Blatstein currently in the works in South Philly, many are questioning if these projects are suitable developments for the area. The massive “gateway” project for Broad and Washington now has updated plans, along with the recent developments for a waterfront commercial and residential complex.

New Broad and Washington rendering.

Inga Saffron, The Inquirer‘s architecture critic, isn’t exactly fond of these two projects, stating that they are “throwbacks to an era when superblocks and surface parking were considered progress here.”

The updated plans for Broad and Washington include 1,000 apartments, 143,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, a total of  620 parking spots and 25,000 sq. ft. for multi-tenant office space. You can see more about the plans here. In her piece, Saffron calls the amount of residential units “a dorm for grown-ups.”

Saffron on Broad and Washington project:

In the current incarnation, the lone tower sits on a 50-foot-high podium that spans the four-acre block. The structure can accommodate three large retailers, but its main purpose is to provide space for 650 cars. The plan calls for nearly 1,000 apartments.

Think about those numbers. Stuffing so many units into one tower suggests that Blatstein is creating a dorm for grown-ups. Yet people who live in such micro units tend to have low levels of car ownership. Considering the proximity of Center City, and the presence of the Broad Street Subway, this site should really be treated like a transit-oriented development.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 5.40.35 AM
Proposed development along Columbus Boulevard.

This 16-acre plot of land, formerly proposed as a site for Foxwood Casinos, could become a mix of residential and commercial spaces. The complex includes 75,000 sq. ft. of commercial space, with Wawa and Aldi proposed to occupy two of the five or so commercial buildings. The plans for this location also includes 435 apartments, 45 buildings of townhouses and 45 pier townhouses. You can read more about the plans here.

Saffron on Columbus Boulevard project:

The arrangement is so slapdash, and violates so many zoning rules, that some planners suspect the proposal was cooked up simply to help market the property.

Certainly, his proposal runs counter to the Delaware waterfront master plan and the city’s effort to stop the strip-malling of Columbus Boulevard. Blatstein’s plan “will result in an isolated enclave stranded in a sea of parking,” complained Shawn McCaney, an official at the William Penn Foundation. The site is just two blocks from the Pennsport neighborhood.

You can read more of her criticisms on these Blatstein projects here.

Now that Saffron has weighed in, what do you think of these development projects?

9 thoughts on “Inga Saffron slams Blatstein’s two huge South Philly projects

  • February 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    She is spot on. Blatstein should develop himself a time machine so he can go back and build suburban shopping malls in the 1980s. What a joke.

  • February 18, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Lets not give in to another greedy developer who wants to only to line his pockets with gold at the expense of the neighborhood.

    Why do we need or want such dense projects?


    • February 19, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Uh…because the purpose of the city is to be dense. But not density for density’s sake.
      It needs to be well done. This is not well done. It’s a suburban development plopped on prime real estate. A great corner begging for density deserves better than huge surface parking and leftover design scraps from his failed casino bid.

      • February 25, 2016 at 7:47 pm

        Uh… Who says that cities are to become ever increasingly dense? Where is that a hard and fast rule?

        People need to think outside the box and create a beautiful neighborhood. Not a concrete and glass jungle.

  • February 19, 2016 at 9:17 am

    You are all cows…moo cows moo.

  • February 19, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Sad, sad, sad what is happening in my beautiful Philadelphia. Greed, is a sin !!! Get rid of developers, let the citizens decide & plan, not the g.d. greedy developers.

  • February 20, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Yeah greedy developers. How about 4 story + deck invading s Philly. & it keeps happening

  • February 21, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Before they let this guy keep buying more properties with plans to develop, let him develop one, right.
    Hope they confirm he is paying taxes!

  • February 22, 2016 at 11:25 am

    There is a petition against this on Pennsporter Twitter if opposed to Bart’s plan.

Comments are closed.