Monday, June 15, 2015

Lincoln Square

When you think of Broad and Washington, you probably think of the large vacant lot that used to host Cirque du Soleil once a year. And then didn't. For now, Tower Investments wants to build lots of apartments on the space. LOTS. But beyond some sketchy renderings and a few talks, not much has been released.

Meanwhile there's another vacant lot across the street, nearly as large, that's largely been ignored. Today, Naked Philly posted plans for redevelopment that includes a rumored mixed use complex by Toll Brothers called Lincoln Square.

Just a massing concept and site plan thus far, Lincoln Square's relatively low-rise project likely won't ruffle any community feathers, except of course those opposed to everything. Despite being synonymous with suburban McMansions and Grey's Ferry's arguably successful Naval Square, Toll Brothers has been inching its way into the urban game. With no sprawling parking lot or gated walls, it seems like Toll Brothers gets urbanism with Lincoln Square. 

The stretch of Broad Street between South Street and Washington Avenue has been a troubling obstacle for developers who've been trying to urbanized the unfortunately suburban strip. Where Center City ends, surface parking lots and suburbanized fast food restaurants begin, only to become urban again at Washington Avenue. Conflicts between neighborhood organizations and developers have routinely called for less height, yet the intersection's prominent position begs developers to aim tall and dense, and for profits.

Lincoln Square - if Toll Brothers is serious - might just be the catalyst Tower Development needs to get back in the Philadelphia game. Geographically this corner is Greater Center City and urbanizing an entire block of it would help bridge the gap between South Broad's Center City and its South Philadelphia. 

The historic train shed that sets within the Toll Brothers block is not part of the property, or the plan, but it has been salvaged in the rendering. A hopeful sign that there may be future plans to incorporate it in some way. 

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