February 7: Washington Avenue West transition | Slender, sophistocated SLS tower | Rock salt woes | Wilson school reuse as retail/residential | Wharton dean to William Penn Foundation | Ice storm snaps

Happy Friday, Streeters!

Major changes could be afoot for Washington Avenue West, transitioning from a manufacturing and building-trades supply zone into a more diverse mixed-use district. Keystone Edge takes a look at how the development pressure and demographic changes in Southwest Center City and Point Breeze are leading to changes on Washington Avenue, the rezoning needed to balance uses oriented to neighbors – drug stores, bakeries, banks – against more industrial uses and the possibility of mixed-use residential buildings.

Inga Saffron likes where Carl Dranoff is going with his planned hotel/condo development at Broad and Spruce streets, SLS International tower. “If it’s anything like the rendering, SLS will be far better than any of the city’s new high-rises,” she writes in this week’s column. The building is a combination boutique hotel/luxury condo stacked in a slender, “leggy as a fashion model” tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. To build this project Dranoff wants a $10 million state subsidy, the city’s 10-year tax abatement, and a number of zoning changes from City Council.

Can we stop using so much rock salt on city streets? The Daily News reports that Councilman Jim Kenney wants to hold hearings to investigate alternatives that are less damaging to the environment, corrosive to utilities and streets, and harsh on pet paws. The Streets Department has already contracted with a firm to research deicing alternatives, particularly those that will work under 20˚.

Neighbors heard precious little detail about future plans for West Philly’s Alexander Wilson School at a meeting with School District officials last night. The Daily News reports that each proposal under consideration for Wilson’s reuse is a combination of retail and residential. Interviews with finalists are underway and the School District wants to close on a sale by June.

The William Penn Foundation has tapped Peter J. Degnan, vice dean at Wharton, to lead the influential regional foundation. Board chair David Haas told NewsWorks that Degnan does not have expertise in each of the foundation’s areas of concentration – water, public space, education – but he will bring “an ability to strengthen institutional functions and the effectiveness of the work we’re doing.” (Disclosure: The William Penn Foundation was been PlanPhilly’s primary funder.)

Brad Maule braved the ice of Mount Airy to capture some beautiful post-storm photos for Hidden City Daily.

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