This may sound ridiculous, but the lot at the corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue is the marquee vacant property in South Philadelphia.
On Thursday, City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson will introduce a bill intended to kickstart developer Bart Blatstein’s plans for the site, which include 1,600 apartments in two towers and 180,000 square feet of retail space. The bill would create a new zoning overlay called the South Broad Street Gateway, impacting the area bounded by 13th and Broad, Washington and Carpenter.
At this point, Blatstein intends to surround the site in three-story retail storefronts and restaurants, with a mess of parking in the middle of the property. Two towers, 30 stories each, would rise at the southeast and northwest corners of the property, at Broad and Carpenter and 13th and Washington.
Councilman Johnson’s bill makes changes to the zoning of the site—currently CMX-5, which is already the most permissive commercial district in the city—clarifying that parking areas must be screened by active commercial spaces on Broad Street and Washington Avenue. Entrances and exits for parking and loading can only be placed on 13th and Carpenter streets. The bill also makes various zoning changes related to signage.
Councilman Johnson’s office said the proposal has been under discussion with Blatstein and various community groups for more than a year. The bill, being introduced on Council’s last meeting of the spring session, is meant to keep the project moving forward while more discussions are held over the summer.
“Hopefully, by the fall, we’ll have a project that we can move forward,” said Steve Cobb, an aide to Councilman Johnson.
Bart Blatstein declined to discuss the project on the record. Representatives of Hawthorne Empowerment Coalition, a local Registered Community Organization, weren’t immediately available to comment.