Temple ideas

Go back to the drawing board

The city’s civic design review committee asked the developer of a project for a student apartment complex near Temple University to come up with a better design and that the plans offer little to the community.

The project has encountered opposition from some residents of neighboring Yorktown and Jefferson Manor, who say it will disrupt their predominantly single-family home neighborhood, contribute to parking problems in the area and ultimately mean that many predominantly black residents no longer have the means to live there.

The proposal was submitted to the City Planning and Development Department’s Civic Design Review Committee on Tuesday to assess the design’s suitability.

Panel members voted unanimously to ask the developer to start over and produce a new design for the current proposal for a 320-unit apartment complex at 1600 N. 11th St.

At the meeting, the panel had a lot to say about the apartment complex which is slated for parking, next to Bright Hope Baptist Church.

The land occupies an entire city block and stretches along 11th Street between Cecil B. Moore Avenue and Oxford Street.

The developer, 1600 N. 11th Street CRCP LLC, and Boston-based architectural firm VBC Studio submitted a rendering for two rows of three-story apartments.

Critics in the neighborhood had described the structure as resembling an “army barracks”.

A public commentator who logged on to the Zoom panel meeting on Tuesday called the design “bizarre” and said it “looks like shipping containers, stretched out and fitted with windows.”

While noting that the panel is generally “pro-development,” Dan Garofalo, vice-chair of the panel, said he could find almost nothing positive to say about it.

“It’s a sad project,” Garofalo said. “No one would want to live near this project. No one would want to live in this project. These are clearly student dormitories. But if I woke up here, I would think I was kidnapped. The units are tiny. I have never seen such small apartments.

Garofalo, architect and senior consultant at Econsult Solutions Inc., told the developer to take the time to look at other apartments in Philadelphia and get a feel for what fits into the “vernacular architecture” of this. which makes Philadelphia, well, Philly.

He even suggested that she examine the townhouses and suburban-style apartments in the Yorktown neighborhood, just south of the proposed development.

VBC Studio architect Sara-Ann Logan said the plan for two horizontal rows of apartments was intended to serve as a transition between the much taller high-rise buildings north of Cecil B. Moore Avenue on the Temple campus and the smaller two-story suburb. Stylish townhouses in the Yorktown neighborhoods south of Oxford Street.

She said 316 of the 320 units will be studios and four will be two-bedroom apartments.

David Sims, another audience commentator who identified himself as a Temple student studying urban and regional planning, also criticized the design:

“It doesn’t provide any connection to the audience,” he said. He said some aspects of the design could “add too many points of conflict” with the surrounding neighborhood.

“READ MORE: Residents of Yorktown and Jefferson Manor say plans for new student apartments near Temple University could pose an environmental threat

Michael Johns, architect and panel chair, suggested the developer talk more with community members.

He criticized plans to store two dumpsters on Marvine Street, a narrow street between the proposed apartments and Bright Hope Baptist Church: “Garbage cans on the street are not acceptable,” he said, adding that dumpsters would encourage a “short dump” of garbage. and other waste.

“There is a huge opportunity to create an amenity space for the community,” Johns said. “I think development really needs to take a step back and reassess.”

“LEARN MORE: City vs. Temple: Yorktown residents fight to keep students from quiet neighborhood near university

Paula Peebles, who lives in Jefferson Manor, a neighborhood adjacent to Yorktown, and Faye M. Anderson, a public historian and conservation advocate, each testified that the apartments were unsuitable for neighboring residences.

Anderson noted that Yorktown is on the National Register of Historic Places as an example of the first community planned by a private developer to provide suburban-style housing options to black Americans.

A group of residents who fought against the project also raised concerns about possible environmental risks. However, the meeting did not address these concerns.

READ MORE: Yorktown residents challenge student tenants

Over a century of industrial use at the site could mean there are environmental concerns.

Since 1862, the parking lot has housed a brewery, industrial laundry, and auto repair business, Anderson said, with records for the on-site brewery dating back to 1848.

Peebles and Karen Warrington, another neighbor of the project, wrote to U.S. Representative Brendan Boyle, asking the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the dangerous contamination there. Boyle sent a letter to the EPA but has not received a response, his assistant said.

Michael Mattioni, an attorney for VBC Studio, did not respond to an email request for comment on the design review committee vote.