Dranoff “transit-oriented development” for South and Broad clears first planning commission hurdle

Developer Carl Dranoff wants to build up to 80 residential units with retail that might include restaurants, coffee shops, a grocery or a deli – and nearly as many spots to park bicycles as cars –  on the north east corner of Broad and South streets.

Earlier this week, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted to recommend that city council pass proposed legislation that would allow the project to include the commercial uses and have below-grade parking for accessory uses and reduce the space required for off-street loading.

Zoning Bill 110670, introduced by First District Councilman Frank DiCicco, also reduces the number of parking spaces required to a project of this size to 3 for every 10 units.

Project attorney Peter Kelsen said less parking is needed because an entrance to the subway is literally beneath a building signage marquee.  The marque was designed with the idea of keeping the entrance dry, he said. “This is a classic transit-oriented development,” he said.

In her presentation, Planner Paula Brumbelow said the project fits in with the city’s planning goals because it reduces dependency on cars. The development is set to have 30 vehicle parking spaces and 25 for bicycles.

The developer has been in talks with neighbors, and judging by testimony at the PCPC hearing, adjustments to height and massing, a new loading zone location and other adjustments seem to have satisfied concerns.

Carl Engelke, Washington Square West Civic’s zoning chair, said his association voted last week not to oppose the ordinance. “The project has improved immensely from where it started,” he said.

Rodman Street resident Angela Fante said the final agreement between neighbors and the developer is still in the works, but “based on our discussions, I don’t feel it will encounter any opposition from the neighbors if everything is built as planned or discussed,” she said. She then welcomed Mr. Dranoff to the block.

DiCicco’s bill, which passed out of Rules Committee on Nov. 1 and is on Thursday’s Council agenda for final passage, requires the developer to create a plan of development for his project.  That POD must get PCPC approval, or the zoning changes will not apply, whatever city council votes.  The zoning bill also includes a sunset provision – Dec. 15, 2016.

Kelsen said a detailed POD that reflects all the changes worked out with the neighbors will be coming to the commissioners “in the next month or so.”

Reach the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com.

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