Old City Development Proposed
Developer David Perlman told city planners Tuesday that he hopes to build a 38-unit townhouse development with a green roof, outdoor space for each unit, and a mix of surface-lot and garage parking at 412 N. Front Street in Old City.
Three-story townhouse development planned for Front Street in Old City | PlanPhilly: Planning Philadelphia's Future
“What's shocking is that you are sitting on a C-4 property, and behaving rationally instead of exuberantly,” said commission chairman and deputy mayor for economic development Alan Greenberger, referring to current state of the real estate market and the relative low-density of the proposal, compared to the maximums allowed in C-4. “I don't know what to say, except thank you.”
Perlman has built a lot in Northern Liberties. His stuff, by and large, is about as mediocre as it gets.
He's just another cheap developer trying to maximize his return with a minimum amount of investment.
The only irony I see here is that the proposal looks somewhat modern. It's ironic because with respect to his last big development in Northern Liberties (named "Liberty Greene", so cute), the neighborhood encouraged him to go in a more modern direction, which he outright dismissed, proclaiming what "his buyers" prefer (i.e. suburban houses in the city). Well, his lot sat half vacant for three years, and he ultimately built out the remaining houses as rentals (in their cutesy Williamsburg style) because he couldn't sell them, even when more modern new developments all around him continued to sell out.
So, instead of schooling the neighborhood on what "his buyers" want, he got schooled by the neighborhood instead, with respect to what buyers in Northern Liberties want. To some extent, some a bit of justice, but it doesn't mean this project will be any more successful. Frankly, I think of Old City as a place where people want some modern touches (big windows, some floor to ceiling glass), but a relatively traditional palette of materials...brick, zinc panel, etc.
So here, I think he's about to fumble again. This proposal is a bit too cheap looking for that site (stucco, anyone...it's not Girard Avenue...it's the core of the city), designed by what is probably the most mediocre architecture firm (of note) in the entire city.
I'm glad to see the site become productive again, but I think overall, the project will elicit a big "MEH" when it's done.
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