Pier 25 plan before Army Corps

Dec. 20

By Matt Blanchard
For PlanPhilly

A development partnership is seeking US Army Corps of Engineers approval to build a 38-story tower with townhouses and parking atop Pier 25 North, the current home of Cavanaugh’s River Deck nightclub.

The narrow tower, containing 182 condominiums, would sit close to Columbus Boulevard, with 24 townhouses in two long rows occupying the rest of pier. Plans suggest the tower’s bottom 10 stories will be a parking garage containing most of the project’s 303 parking spaces – a generous parking ratio of 1.5 spaces per unit.

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Because the Corps has jurisdiction over navigable waters such as the Delaware, the developers need Corps permission to rebuild the pier, which was 515 feet long before a fire in the 1970s destroyed the outer half.

Rebuilding the pier means removing 940 wooden pilings that held up the old pier and sinking 815 new concrete-filled steel pilings into the riverbed.  The developers also seek to widen the pier by 50 feet.  None of this raises alarms in the Corps report, in which the project is described as having no serious impact on wetlands or critical habitats.

A 30-day public comment period on the project ends December 30.

Public comment can be sent to David.J.Caplan@usace.army.mil

The project also includes a public fishing pier, some 147 feet long, though the plans do not indicate its precise location.

But who, exactly, are the developers?  Corps of Engineers documents name two entities: Pier 25 North Associates and the Hong Kong & Shanghai Investment Co., but list no addresses. 

Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the 1990s list both entities at 23 N 3rd Street in Old City, yet an employee at the only office tenant in the building, Brandywine Construction Management Inc., said she had no knowledge of either group.

Longtime Philadelphia development partnership Silver & Harting has proposed similar projects for the site over the last few years. Yet a spokesman for the group disavowed knowledge of any current activity on the site and jokingly suggested PlanPhilly might learn more by contemplating our navel.

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The purpose of the Army Corps posting is to solicit comments and recommendations from the public. The comment period runs from Nov. 30 to Dec. 30.

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