Improved recycling, hybrid cars and other ways of going green have become increasingly popular in recent years. “It’s a pattern, not a trend,” says Jim Maransky, owner and developer of The IceHouse Condominiums, located in the heart of Fishtown. Maransky says: “No one is buying cars that get eight miles to the gallon anymore. Why would someone buy a house that is essentially the same?” The condos, located across the street from Hetzell’s Field, are under construction and are expected to receive gold certification from The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a national environmental group. Platinum is the only rating higher.
Dooley’s Icehouse is the first Fishtown building involved in the project. This corner store went out of business over 10 years ago when the owner died. Very popular in the area, especially with the sports field across the street, Dooley’s was a part of the neighborhood. The developer decided to keep the name and originally wanted the first floor to continue as a commercial space, with apartments on the upper floors.
Although the building was in poor shape, the plans were rethought. The idea for condominiums came after this, as well as the purchase of the surrounding seven buildings. The sustainable laspect of the condos was not in the early plans, but the decision came soon after during the design of the parking garage. Originally employing an interior catwalk system, the parking garage would allow residents to walk from their cars to their homes. This idea was not ideal, and Maransky came up with the green roof idea as an alternative. From here, the green features fell into place, and this lead to the need to acquire a LEED certification.
Most Fishtown residents seem to appreciate the green nature of the project. Joey Muzychka says: “I have four children, and I am teaching them to recycle and care about the environment. It’s great to have something like this nearby for them to see.” Although some residents oppose the condos because of the construction noise, raising taxes and reduced parking, the majority of residents seem to agree with the project on the whole. Gregg Shensky says, “Taxes are going up, and that’s bad for old Fishtown residents, but it’s a good thing overall.”
Nevertheless, some residents are bothered by the inconvenience. Ron Presby, who lives across the street, says, “The noise is horrible at seven in the morning, and I hate congestion, but anywhere else this development would be really nice.” Shensky says, “It’s inconvenient. They dug up Moyer Street, and there will be bad parking the next couple of months.”
Generally, however, the neighborhood appears to support of the project, but residents fail to realize that the construction will not be completed anytime soon because of work on other condos. Moreover, another project is in the planning stages. Temporarily called the Moyer Project, this program will not be finished for several years.
Maransky says, “I already made such a large commitment to the area [with The IceHouse] that I purchased whatever was for sale at that point.” Maransky attended college in Philadelphia and has lived in Northern Liberties as a student. He knows the area well, and this knowledge helped when choosing the location for these projects. A colleague suggested Dooley’s Icehouse when it went up for sale. After looking at the neighborhood, Maransky decided Fishtown would be a great place. He says that Fishtown and Northern Liberties continue to develop, and this is a good location for these types of homes. With the size and design of the condominiums, he hopes to target young professionals, original homebuyers and empty nesters.
The IceHouse boasts a rainwater recycling system with three 750-gallon tanks. This water can be used by the residents for washing their cars, watering the green roof and watering houseplants, as well as many other possibilities. Solar power will be used for all of the electrical needs in the common areas. High efficiency appliances are included, as well as a tankless hot water heater. Hybrid car hookups are available in the parking garage, as well as a Philly Car Share spot and a secure bike rack. Not only is the design environmentally friendly,but residents are encouraged to keep living green. Mostly everything Maransky works on going forward will be green, and he will build his own house when he moves. He plans to design the house to be completely off the power grid, with geothermal heat, solar hot water and other features.