Thursday, February 6, 2014

CHOP Meeting

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia held a community meeting last night at the Philadelphia School to present their current plans on development along Schuylkill Avenue at the South Street Bridge. The meeting was sponsored by SOSNA, South Street West Business Association, and South Street West Civic Association. There were about one hundred people attending, including City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and State Representative Jordan Harris.

CHOP has set up a web site with details on their development projects. At this moment it does not contain copies of the presentation made last night, but it does have prior presentation material which is not substantially different from what was presented last night. You can view it here.

There is also information about this on the SOSNA web page, but since it is not dated, it is not clear if this is a review of last night's meeting or a prior meeting. View it here. There's also an earlier report about the development from a meeting held May 15, 2012, here.

Points from my notes:
  • This is a multi-phase development project geared to give CHOP the ability to expand as it needs in the future, perhaps even as far out as 2030.
  • Phase I is for the development of a research facility with an estimated completion date of late 2016. Demolition of existing structures on the site is expected to start as early as March of this year.
  • The main building in Phase I will have twenty-two stories with about half-million square feet. It will service about a thousand employees.
  • A parking garage and a surface lot will accommodate a total of about five hundred cars. The garage will be an "invisible" three stories, since it will abut the elevated portion of South Street and not be higher than street level.
  • One of the access point to the facility will be via a new traffic light installed at the east end of the South Street Bridge, between the existing lights at 27th Street and the pedestrian crosswalk.
  • The site will have landscaped space open to the public. Access to the Schuylkill Trail will be provided with a bridge over the CSX railroad line. A promenade will feature a cafe that will be open to the public and operate during and after business hours and on weekends.
  • Storm water will be managed through the use of a Rain Garden, which will help clean the water before it empties into the Schuylkill River.
  • Quote of the evening, this will be a "world-class environment for world-class researchers."
  • Attendee concerns include the increased traffic on the South Street Bridge, the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists passing over the proposed entry to the facility, the lack of food amenities for the employees (no cafeteria is planned), the scale of the buildings relative to the neighborhood, the development of prime river-front real estate for institutional purposes rather than retail/public use.
A follow-up meeting should be expected in about one month.

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