The Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s Civic Design Review committee heard a presentation about the modern highrise apartment building at 205 Race Street, at the corner of 2nd and Race Streets in Old City, right next to the Ben Franklin Bridge.  The CDR committee closed the CDR process, thus giving their advisory approval, after giving the project much praise.

Tom Gluck, of Gluck+ Architects, gave the presentation for the developer Jeffrey Brown.  He said that the new tower would “reflect the energy and creativity of Old City”.  It would have 148 units, with a mix of studio, one bedroom, and two bedroom units.  It would have 28 parking spaces, all underground, and 51 bicycle storage spaces.  Four of the parking spaces will be reserved for car share.  There would be 14,000 square feet of retail all along 2nd and Race Streets.  The retail would have large glass windows.  The entrance, to the apartment building, would be on Race Street, with 10,000 square feet of retail space to the left of the lobby and 4,000 square feet of retail space to the right and on 2nd Street.

The shape of the building generated much interest at the hearing.  There would be two sections to the entire building.  The base would be five stories and be 55 feet tall, with amenities like a gym and lounge on the 5thfloor overlooking a terrace patio and green roof above 2nd Street.  The tower would be setback from Race Street and would be 185 feet tall, up to the 17th, and top, floor.  It would have many different angles to maximize views of the bridge, both to the residents and for those on the street.  The façade would have metal panels between the large windows.  Some of the panels would be reflective and some won’t be.  That creates an effect on the building of the windows looking like they are of different, large sizes, even though they are all the same size.

The developers will use little Florist Street, almost under the bridge, for entrance to the parking garage and the loading dock.  They intend to create a small green plaza at the corner of 2nd and Florist and will, also, widen the sidewalk along Race Street to allow outdoor seating and, possibly, outdoor art exhibitions.  The development will seek LEED Gold certification and have a small amount of affordable units for those making 80% of the median income for the area.  The LEED certification and affordable units allow the developers to build taller than the zoning allows at the site.

The CDR was very supportive of the project, saying that the design was “fabulous” and Mr. Baker said that the building will be “a work of art for residents to enjoy”.  The CDR voted to end the CDR process for this project.

By, Gabriel Gottlieb