Historical Commission could scuttle Marina View designs | CDAG on Pier 34-35 development | TLC for LOVE Park | Divine Lorraine update | microloans for entrepreneurs

Will the Historical Commission do what the Planning Commission wouldn’t and reject the disappointing designs for Marina View? We’ll find out today. In her Inquirer column Inga Saffron explains that the Historical Commission’s Architecture Committee trashed the proposed designs and recommended that the plans be rejected. The Historical Commission must approve the designs for the proposed residential project because it is in the Old City Historic District, sited just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Like the Architecture Committee, Inga pans the “unimaginative” design that is “clueless to its surroundings.” She writes, “In contrast to the [bridge] abutment’s weighty, chiseled blocks, the new facade will look as if it’s covered in papier-mâché.” Worse still, Inga contends, the developers wholly miss the opportunity to capitalize on the energy and activity bubbling up on this part of the waterfront. She adds, “The Planning Commission should have demanded better. The [Louis] Cicalese proposal was the first test of the Delaware waterfront master plan, released last year, and the commissioners blew it. After this, it will be all downhill.” PlanPhilly’s JoAnn Greco will be on hand for today’s Historical Commission meeting.

Meanwhile, representatives of Cicalese’s Ensemble Real Estate showed the Central Delaware Advisory Group revised designs for the proposed residential development downriver at Piers 34 and 35 on Thursday, PlanPhilly’s Jared Brey reports. Ensemble brought down part of the building’s height to the 100-foot height (another part would top out at 180 feet) and moved some of the building’s service areas away from the street. Still CDAG members were not convinced that the plans created any real public benefit in exchange for constructing another portion of the building above the 100-foot height limit stipulated in the Master Plan for the Central Delaware. Ensemble will present its plans to the Planning Commission on August 21 for approval.

Parks and Recreation Department employee Albert Figlestahler is responsible for keeping up LOVE Park’s appearances, a job that is increasingly demanding given the park’s heavy use and abuse. The Inquirer spends some time in LOVE Park with Figlestahler who arrives every morning to pick up trash, scrub graffiti, and remove detritus left behind by homeless encampments, to make sure the plaza looks presentable by lunch. The next day he gets up and does it all over again. Of Figlestahler, Mark Focht, deputy commissioner for Parks and Recreation, said: “He’s just the kindest, gentlest soul, and he does an extraordinary job under extremely difficult circumstances.”

Divine Lorraine update: The Inquirer reports that unnamed sources “familiar with the negotiations” say Eric Blumenfeld is negotiating to acquire the Divine Lorraine property from the current owners and if that fails to pursue its purchase at sheriff’s sale in the fall. One of the sources said that the current negotiations pertain only to the hotel property, not the land, which would involve a separate transaction.

The Urban Affairs Coalition is facilitating a new microlending program to support small business development in Philadelphia, reports the Daily News. Finanta, a community-development financial institution, will administer $322,500 in small loans to entrepreneurs, using funds contributed by six big banks.

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