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Old 07-26-2013, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Boston Metrowest (via the Philly area)
4,743 posts, read 7,844,086 times
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Overall, I think it's important to point out that infill projects like this (especially those that have underground parking as opposed to embedding more surface parking lots) are excellent for Philadelphia -- the city can only hope for a thousand more projects similar to this to restore vibrancy to many areas that need it.

To this end, it's important to not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is absolutely a clear design heritage throughout Philadelphia, but the goal should not be to compete with these unique, historic neighborhoods, but rather blend in. Honestly, I don't see how a glass box -- while definitely modern-looking -- is offensive to historic architecture. Glass is literally transparent and designed blend into its surroundings.

I think this is a rough rendering, and while it could be improved to have something a bit less generic-looking -- again, I think it is better to look innocuous rather than try to replicate history and fail miserably.
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Old 07-26-2013, 02:52 PM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,207 posts, read 3,046,307 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post

Philly has hundreds of other neighborhoods that are affordable, and even a bargain compared to Boston, NYC, or Washington. Working class people will always find housing in Philly.
Despite an abundance of vacant land and abandoned properties in parts of the city, that's not a safe assumption.

Back in 2006, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program did a study of middle-income neighborhoods in 12 large U.S. metropolitan areas and found that middle-income neighborhoods were disappearing faster than middle-income Americans were. The decline was particularly dramatic in three of them: Los Angeles-Long Beach, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.

While I think that mixed-income neighborhoods are actually desirable from a policy standpoint - poorer residents who live in such neighborhoods have greater access to the opportunities that can lift them out of poverty than those who live in exclusively lower-income neighborhoods - I don't pretend that every neighborhood will, or can be made, that way. Middle-income neighborhoods, therefore, become even more important as avenues of upward mobility for the poor as well, but they're under pressure too. Whil a quick-and-dirty survey I conducted for this Philadelphia Real Estate Blog post last spring revealed that there's lots of "affordable housing" in a number of neighborhoods, including gentrifying Point Breeze, those Brookings figures suggest that this may not always be the case. (Which is why I argued in a Hidden City Daily essay that we all should care about the fate of the Northeast, for it is currently the largest middle-income area of the city.)
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:39 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista
2,472 posts, read 3,485,873 times
Reputation: 2202
Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
It's too late for people looking for "affordable" and lower cost homes in this neighborhood. Too late. Even a smallish row home a block away on either Regent Square or 4200 block of Osage is inching towards half a million dollars! Half a million! An attached row house. Believe it.

Philly has hundreds of other neighborhoods that are affordable, and even a bargain compared to Boston, NYC, or Washington. Working class people will always find housing in Philly.

The neighborhood is beautiful. The residents want to keep it that way.
That's not a very nice sentiment. You believe your neighborhood is too good for working class people? You think we should let the working class live elsewhere, in a neighborhood that isn't as nice, because you're really concerned about ensuring optimal shade conditions for a corner of your fabulous park!

Would it really destroy your beautiful Victorian neighborhood if someone built a place where a young couple, or a nurse at chop, or a maintenance worker at upenn, or a teacher, etc was able to afford to rent or even buy a condo in your neighborhood? Why do you think it would be a bad thing to allow a bunch of people to be able to afford to live in a highly desirable neighborhood in walking distance of their work? Why are you against a few hundred more people coming to patronize a growing business corridor that would continue to flourish and grow with all the added customers?

I'm really sort of shocked by comments. You've always struck me as a very positive Philadelphian and what you're taking here is a very anti-philadelphian stance. This building would make baltimore avenue better, west philadelphia better, the entire city better. You're against it why? Because it would lower the demand for housing? Because it might block some of the sun to one corner of clark park?

Plus, the picture you've shown is very misleading. The side of the building that actually fronts the park is actually very skinny and low to the ground. I doubt it will have anywhere near the impact on sunlight in the park as you fear.


The side of the building that faces the park is on the right hand side of the picture above. As you can see it is a very narrow side of the building and it is only 5 stories high and remains at this height for quite a distance. All the high massing you see on the original photo that you started this topic with don't start until about 200 yards away from the park.

The design is ugly and I understand the desire to make sure the qualities that make clark park great are preserved. So push for better design and push for sun studies to ensure not only that the building won't be disrupted by shade in a disruptive manor but also ensure that sun reflecting off the glass won't harm the park. But I really hope you will reconsider wanting a smaller scale project.
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Old 07-26-2013, 04:20 PM
 
416 posts, read 486,363 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
Philly has hundreds of other neighborhoods that are affordable, and even a bargain compared to Boston, NYC, or Washington. Working class people will always find housing in Philly.
That is a bold statement. Where exactly are you from? I grew up in Austin, Texas. In a period of about ten years my hometown gained almost 200,000 people. The city went from a mid-size college town to the 11th largest city in the country in the blink of an eye. Failure to adequately accommodate the sudden influx of people in the city core (read: resistance to dense urban development outside of downtown) led to a rapid increase in housing prices and suburban sprawl. Houses in Austin are now more expensive than they are in Philly. Needless to say, working class and middle income people are being priced out of the city.

The same thing has been happening in New York for years. I moved to Brooklyn in the mid-2000s and watched in dismay as parts of Crown Heights, Bushwick, and Bed-Stuy became extensions of Manhattan, where the average income in every neighborhood -- except Harlem, Inwood, and Chinatown -- is $100,000. I'm sure those people who lived in the East Village and Alphabet City during the '70s and paid a couple hundred bucks for cold water flats never thought prices in these areas, or the rest of Manhattan, for that matter, would be what they are now (absolutely insane).

Philly is next. The recent influx of folks priced out of New York is just the beginning. Anyone who doesn't see the city's enormous potential is a damn fool. It's affordable, it's urban, it's diverse, it's big, and it's close to three major cities, one of which is the largest in the country. It is practically destined to have a population boom in the next decade. It can, in the process, maintain its status as a haven for the middle-class. But, like Chicago or Houston, it has to be open to development. Otherwise, it will quickly become a city that is only accessible to the rich.
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Old 07-26-2013, 05:47 PM
 
Location: University City, Philadelphia
22,632 posts, read 12,787,411 times
Reputation: 15763
Quote:
Originally Posted by phillies2011 View Post
That's not a very nice sentiment. You believe your neighborhood is too good for working class people? You think we should let the working class live elsewhere, in a neighborhood that isn't as nice, because you're really concerned about ensuring optimal shade conditions for a corner of your fabulous park! Oops. Sorry. I didn't mean to come across sounding shrill or strident. I was attempting to just state the facts. I fear I came across as something of an elitist ... I'm actually a blue collar working class guy myself.

Would it really destroy your beautiful Victorian neighborhood if someone built a place where a young couple, or a nurse at chop, or a maintenance worker at upenn, or a teacher, etc was able to afford to rent or even buy a condo in your neighborhood? Why do you think it would be a bad thing to allow a bunch of people to be able to afford to live in a highly desirable neighborhood in walking distance of their work? Why are you against a few hundred more people coming to patronize a growing business corridor that would continue to flourish and grow with all the added customers? No of course not. However, this is how capitalism works. If the neighborhood is desirable it becomes less affordable for some people. I would love to see a "Mitchell-Lama scheme" like they have in New York City were people who are different income levels can live in a quality apartment building and the rent is based on income and the residents actually earn credits towards ownership of their apartments. The fact is I could never afford to buy a home here now; I lucked out because I bought my three story 120 year old Victorian "Twin" in 2000 just at the last moment before the prices started to skyrocket.

I'm really sort of shocked by comments. You've always struck me as a very positive Philadelphian and what you're taking here is a very anti-philadelphian stance. This building would make baltimore avenue better, west philadelphia better, the entire city better. You're against it why? Because it would lower the demand for housing? Because it might block some of the sun to one corner of clark park? You misunderstand me. A beautiful building would make the 'hood a better place. I am NOT against an apartment building with retail space going in. I would love to see a lovelier building there ... an "ornament" or "trophy" for the street. I can even live with the height if it had imaginitive set backs.

Plus, the picture you've shown is very misleading. The side of the building that actually fronts the park is actually very skinny and low to the ground. I doubt it will have anywhere near the impact on sunlight in the park as you fear.

You are correct. That was the only image I was able to cut-n-paste. The facade facing 43rd Street is 5 stories high.



The design is ugly and I understand the desire to make sure the qualities that make clark park great are preserved. So push for better design and push for sun studies to ensure not only that the building won't be disrupted by shade in a disruptive manor but also ensure that sun reflecting off the glass won't harm the park. But I really hope you will reconsider wanting a smaller scale project. That is what I aim to do.
1. Clarkmore Group paid a lot of money for that 1 acre lot. They deserve to make a profit. I am not disputing that.

2. A multi-unit multi-story apartment building would be good thing especially if it has retail spaces on the ground floor ... besides providing jobs or people, conveniences for local shoppers, it will also contribute to sidewalk pedestrian traffic to the block that will discourage crime in the area.

3. My main issues are about the overall quality of the building and it's aesthetics. Yes, I think it is a bit too big and I can live with a zoning variance permitting them to build more than 4 stories or 36 feet high, but I think the developers are trying to bully the community into accepting the bulky "Bauhaus-like" thing that is so out of scale.

4. It's a beautiful neighborhood. Is it too much to ask for a beautiful building?
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Old 07-27-2013, 05:00 AM
 
Location: Germantown, Philadelphia
6,207 posts, read 3,046,307 times
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Interesting. The developer explained that the architects chose to make this building a (mostly) glass box because they wanted it to "recede into the background," a rather neat trick to pull off with a five-story/10 (9, given the slope of the land)-story apartment/condo/retail structure that occupies a prominent corner.

I wouldn't call the building ugly as much as I'd call it bland: it's a decorated glass box. Strip it down any further and you have one of those banal glass cubes that you find in suburban office parks.

I'm not sure the structure would work in brick - but stone might work.

Seems to me that the main objection some have is that this is an unabashedly Modernist building in an intact 19th-century neighborhood. I don't think the two styles necessarily clash; as I'm typing this, there's a picture of University Mews in my head.

Given the building's scale, I think that period architecture would be totally wrong for the structure, and besides, we don't have Frank Furness around to do that right. What would you all suggest by way of improving it?
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Old 07-27-2013, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
1,567 posts, read 2,662,851 times
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You know, I actually like the building design. If it was being proposed for Northern Liberties I'd be cheering for it to be constructed as is with few changes. It's just out of place at 43rd and Baltimore. I'm talking specifically about the facade materials, not the overall project which I support 100%. It's all about the context. It needs to be warmer and brickier or stonier.

Last edited by mancat100; 07-27-2013 at 07:16 AM..
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Old 07-27-2013, 07:44 AM
 
Location: Plymouth Meeting, PA.
4,525 posts, read 2,249,892 times
Reputation: 2170
Def. no!
Why do these modern builders think ultra modern architecture looks great in a neighbourhood like this?
And who is to say it wont be rented out section 8?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Clark Park View Post
It was announced at a meeting yesterday, July 24th, that developers want to construct a modernist concrete, steel and glass building on the 4200 block of Baltimore Avenue, overlooking Clark Park. The structure proposed is a 10 story, 163 unit apartment building that will offer both rental apartments and condominium privately owned units.

The developer of this project is Clarkmore Group, LLC. Presently the lot is zoned for residential homes that could be no taller than four stories. Clarkmore is hoping for community support to help get the zoning laws changed for this project.

The neighborhood is called Spruce Hill and it is several blocks west of the campus of the University of Pennsylvania. The neighborhood is mostly residential with large Victorian semi-detached townhouses (locally called "Twins") that mostly date from the 1870's, 1880's, and 1890's predominating, but there are also single mansions and rowhouses as well. Most of Spruce Hill is actually a registered historic district known as the "West Philadelphia Streetcar Suburb."

Many of the local residents at the meeting voiced concerns about the height and mass of the building that is so dramatically out of proportion with everything else in the neighborhood, the shadows the structure will cast on homes along Baltimore Avenue and Clark Park, the aesthetics which a few called "ugly" and "revolting," the fate of a few century old trees on the property, the fact the building ignores the architectural heritage and character of the neighborhood, and so on.

Here is the proposed building - "4224 Baltimore":



To get an idea of what the neighborhood looks like ...

These are the houses directly across the street on the 4200 block of Baltimore Avenue:



--------------

... and around the corner on 42nd Street:



----------------

Also directly across the street from the proposed "4224 Baltimore Avenue" building is the popular original Green Line Cafe. On the upper right hand side of the photo you can see the actual empty lot the 10 story building will be built upon:
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Old 07-27-2013, 07:53 AM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
1,567 posts, read 2,662,851 times
Reputation: 1658
Quote:
Originally Posted by FKD19124 View Post
Def. no!
Why do these modern builders think ultra modern architecture looks great in a neighbourhood like this?
And who is to say it wont be rented out section 8?
I doubt Section 8 will be an issue at this location.

I think lots of architects have massive egos and think we plebes should be thrilled with whatever they deign to design for us. They think we're just too unsophisticated to appreciate their artistry.
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Old 07-27-2013, 08:07 AM
 
Location: West Cedar Park, Philadelphia
1,225 posts, read 2,275,770 times
Reputation: 686
Quote:
Originally Posted by FKD19124 View Post
Def. no!
Why do these modern builders think ultra modern architecture looks great in a neighbourhood like this?
And who is to say it wont be rented out section 8?
They already said it wasn't going to be affordable housing. Section 8 is up to the landlord, but since this is being targeted towards UPenn students and people that work in UCity, I highly doubt that will be a problem.
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