Equinox to build 29 units on city-owned vacant land in Francisville

The Philadelphia City Planning Commission voted Tuesday to approve an agreement between the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and developer Jonathan Weiss, of Equinox Management & Construction, to build 29 residential units on 18,000 square feet of city-owned vacant land in Francisville. The site, on the 1700 block of Folsom Street, sits across from the Francisville Recreation Center and contains four standing, single-family houses which are not part of the agreement.

The PRA issued a request for proposals for the site last May, and the proposal from Equinox was chosen last summer from among six applicants. According to David Fecteau, a Planning Commission staff member who presented the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, the disposition cost to be paid by the developer is roughly $515,000. The site is zoned RM-1, a multifamily residential designation.

Weiss’ plan includes two multi-family buildings and 21 single-family units, 11 car parking spaces and 30 bike parking spaces, green roofs, solar panels, and energy-efficient materials. The units are to be market-rate and mixed-income, with a majority planned to be classified as affordable for families earning the area median income, which Weiss said is $64,000 a year. The rental units will be offered for around $2 per square foot.

Weiss said that Equinox is “very, very close to having the whole project be as-of-right,” and David Fecteau said the current proposal would be unlikely to require either zoning relief or Civic Design Review.

The four existing homes on the block are owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, and Weiss said he had approached the authority about incorporating those buildings into the project, but that the process takes a long time. Commission Chairman Alan Greenberger offered to facilitate conversations between Weiss and PHA.

David Fecteau pointed out that the single-family units were planned to be about 16 feet wide, roughly the width of many Philadelphia rowhomes.

“It’s a development that fits,” Fecteau said. “It’s not out of scale, and that’s one of the things that turned on the selection committee to this development.”

Weiss said he hopes to officially acquire the land in April or May, begin construction immediately, and start offering the units in the fall.

Contact the reporter at jbrey@planphilly.com and follow him on Twitter @jaredbrey

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