Monday, March 10, 2014

Broad and Washington

The northeast corner of Broad and Washington has been vacant for a long, long time. Between hosting weeds and probably hobo camps (I don't know, I didn't live here in the 90s but that's what I picture), it's emptiness is seemingly inexplicable. But there are reason it's sat vacant.

The size of the parcel is obvious. For what's only relatively recent prime real estate, it's taken a long time for any developer to look at it as more than space for a suburban megamart. Now that it's desirable land hugging million dollar condos and yuppie filled rowhouses, it's looking for someone to build something befitting the Avenue of the Arts.

But it isn't just on the Avenue of the Arts, Broad and Washington is the gateway to the Avenue.

When Bart Blatstein fulfills his agreement to purchase the lot from Hudson Capital, he plans a movie theater, a gym, a grocery store, restaurants, retail spaces, and tons of parking. What he hasn't yet planned is the pizazz you should find at this corner, at least not yet.

For now, his site plan looks fine...for something like the corner of 44th and Walnut. It services its neighborhood with oodles of resources, but on paper it's the kind of dull infill that should be replacing the blocks of suburban boredom between South and Carpenter. It just doesn't say "Welcome to Center City" the way Broad and Washington could, or should.

Given Blatstein's experience with the Piazza, he could bring on an architect like Erdy-McHenry, a firm versed in dramatic midrise complexes that don't scare NIMBYs with shadows.

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