South of South Street: Five Improvements in the Works
Residents living south of South Street have witnessed rapid change over the last decade. From Ori Feibush’s new construction and rehabilitated homes to closing shops and bars, the area has been in a constant state of flux. According to census data, the area’s African-American population decreased more than 25 percent between 2000 and 2010, while white residents have nearly doubled in that same time and Asian residents have increased by more than 40 percent. With changing demographics often comes a change in needs as well. For those commuting to work or school, big changes are coming to one of the most dangerous streets in the city.
1. Washington Avenue
Philadelphia’s most treacherous stretch of road might just be Washington Avenue. The street averages six crashes per week and a pedestrian or bicyclist is injured once every three weeks. The new plan will make some sections of the street three lanes and others five (where traffic is heavier). Back-in angled parking will create more parking for the area and bike lanes will receive a fresh coat of paint. New loading zones will likely be painted as well.
2. Vacant Lot on South Broad
Bart Blatstein, developer of The Piazza at Schmidt’s in Northern Liberties and the soon-to-be casino, The Provence, reached a leasing agreement for a 400,000 square foot swath of land on the northeast corner of South Broad Street and Washington Ave. Blatstein hopes to put in a movie theater, fitness center and grocery store along with some retail stores and roughly 1,000 parking spaces. Though the plan is pending approval, there’s little doubt that Blatstein has big plans for the area for better or for worse.
3. Carpenter Green
South of South Neighborhood Association’s second green space is coming to the northwest corner of Carpenter and 17th streets. Construction hasn’t begun yet as the park’s design is still pending approval from the city. The design featured a new dog park, an asymmetrical layout, a cut-through connecting Carpenter and 17th streets, and a large lawn area where visitors can sit.
4. Restaurant space across from Carpenter Green
Just across the street from Carpenter Green a new restaurant space will be added to the area. Construction is underway building the new space in an area currently lacking restaurants. SOSNA’s new website, South of South Business, lists the property at 2,800 square feet and zoned for mixed commercial and residential use. The city assessed the property at slightly more than $105,000 for 2015. Despite lots of new construction, the area is destitute of restaurants (just one south of South Street and North of Washington) so the new space will be a needed addition to the area.
5. CHOP’s expansion into the Devil’s Pocket
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) plans to turn the abandoned JFK Vocational School and Springfield Beer sites on Schuylkill Avenue into 2.5 million square feet of office and research space. CHOP presented plans to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on May 20. The building is a 22-story glass building with a plaza above the train tracks overlooking the Schuylkill River. The planning commission delayed approval though, instructing CHOP to work with neighborhood business and civic groups. Among other things, the hospital has to increase commercial space on South and Bainbridge streets, change the lot’s zoning to commercial mixed use and connect the Schuylkill Banks Trail to the building with a pedestrian bridge. The Zoning Board of Adjustment will render the final decision, but no timeframe has been provided.