A recent development has surfaced that we thought might be of interest to you. We were notified by the City that it has issued a Conditional Zoning Permit for a 31-story residential tower at 1 Dock Street. That property is the location of the existing Society Hill Sheraton. This is the first we heard of this new permit and we do not have many details, yet.
Here is what we know. The property (on which the hotel sits) was sold earlier this year to the Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc., a real estate firm based in Chevy Chase, MD. The zoning permit lists an affiliate of Buccini/Pollin as the permittee. We contacted their Philadelphia attorneys, who informed us that the hotel would remain and that the tower would be at the southern part of the property, which is currently open space with a bit of landscaping. We asked them for a copy of the zoning drawings filed with the City (i.e., the basis of the permit) and they declined to provide us the drawings at this time, referring to their need to speak to their client about public outreach efforts and strategy and that the client’s principals are away this week.
Unfortunately, the City does not make it easy to obtain copies of drawings in the City’s possession. At some point the City will upload the drawings to the City website, but that takes time, sometimes as long as two or three weeks; sometimes sooner. We do not wish to wait, and we therefore contacted Councilman Squilla and asked him to try and get the drawings for us, as he has done successfully in the past; and the Councilman agreed to try again this time. We hope to have the plans any day now.
The permit does indicate some information. It states that the permit is for the following: “A DETACHED STRUCTURE (MAXIMUM HEIGHT 375 FEET) FOR USE AS 273 DWELLING UNITS, ON THE SAME LOT AS AN EXISTING VISITOR ACCOMADATION, WITH INTERIOR ACCESSORY OFF STREET PARKING SPACES FOR SEVENTY SEVEN (77) PARKING SPACES INCLUDING FOUR (4) ADA SPACE TWO(2) LOADING DOCKS AND 131 BICYCLE PARKING SPACES ON AN ACCESSIBLE ROUTE, WITH 171 VALET PARKING SPACES FOR THE EXISTING VISITOR ACCOMADATION.”
The existence of the permit suggests that the City believes the project is a by-right project, meaning that it complies with the Zoning Code and does not need a variance. It remains to be seen whether the City is correct.
At a minimum, the project would have go through a City process called Civic Design Review, which includes a City review resulting in a set of non-binding design recommendations. Because the recommendations are non-binding, the review process is quite weak, but it is worth mentioning.
It is possible we will hold a community meeting on this sometime in September. We will keep you posted on that and with other information.
Rosanne Loesch, President
TRASH DELAYED TILL SATURDAY DUE TO HOLIDAY.×