Proposal to move fire station around the corner to 11th & Wharton

A City Council hearing on the plan takes place October 26.

On Thursday, October 14, 2021, about two dozen members of the community and representatives of the Philadelphia Fire Department and Alterra Properties met via Zoom to discuss the planned sale of the municipal complex at 11th and Wharton Streets and relocation of the fire station. Hosted by Council Member Mark Squilla and Passyunk Square Civic Association, the meeting sought to address concerns raised at a July 20th meeting. It provided an overview of the site plans, proposed firehouse relocation, and outlined the process for future community review.

The plan

The firehouse, currently located on the southeast corner of 12th and Reed Streets will be relocated to 11th Street, just south of the current 3rd District Police Station. The new firehouse will match the police station’s height at three stories. After initial concerns about emergency vehicle response times were quickly addressed, the meeting shifted focus to issues such as the size of the proposed driveway apron, pedestrian and delivery traffic, and loss of greenery.

The fire station relocation was not originally part of the City’s request for proposal. Now that the building has been added to the project, the Fire Department is part of the design process. Department leaders feel that the 11th Street location would be more optimal, although they still expressed reservations about the actual design of the building. The design is in the beginning phase and will have many rounds of process and review by the community before being finalized.

The gray shading indicates the existing location of the fire station (Lot 1) and proposed new location (Lot 3).

The meeting

Community members seemed frustrated that some involved in the meeting could not answer basic questions about the project, or seemed unfamiliar with the location—not knowing the directional flow of the surrounding streets, and where existing entrances were located.

There appeared to be some confusion between the developers and the Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy about the proposed design, particularly the size of the apron. There was also a disagreement about the ADA compliance of a three-story building. Deputy Commissioner Murphy seemed unfamiliar with the project, initially stating the building was currently on 10th Street and then incorrectly stating it would be relocated to Wolf Street, before being presented with the Alterra designs shared at previous community meetings.

Neighbors also expressed concerns about the unfinalized details of a proposed pedestrian walkway which would bisect the block between 12th and 11th street but not permit car flow between the Wharton and Reed parking lots. Concerns were raised about the large volume of pedestrian traffic, the impact of delivery and gig vehicles, and the detail of a commercial space on the ground floor of the residential building to be erected in the current location of the firehouse.

The meeting concluded with general issues of the firehouse addressed. Other concerns were left unsettled including the loss of invested community members such as off-duty firefighters on the existing station’s porch and the use of open space.

Next steps

The next step in this long process will be a City Council rules committee hearing on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 at 10am. This hearing is for the first part of the legislation that would allow this project to go forward. View the legislation as proposed. Anyone is welcome to register to testify, by calling 215‑686‑3412 extension 8, or emailing by 3 p.m. the day before the hearing and submitting the requested information.

If passed, there will be another hearing to proceed with legislation that would allow for the sale of 1100 Wharton.

Public comments welcome!

Passyunk Square Civic Association encourages neighbors to to download and review a copy of the 2035 Philadelphia South District Plan regarding this area and submit comments through their Municipal Complex Google form.