Northeast Times

Fishtown: ‘Yes’ to Canal St. North project

Core Re­alty's “Canal St. North Pro­ject” would bring a large mu­sic ven­ue, a bar, res­taur­ant, bowl­ing al­ley and re­tail space to the wa­ter­front in Fishtown. Res­id­ents are wor­ried about park­ing, but voted in sup­port of the de­vel­op­ment.

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Though the primary — and over­whelm­ing — con­cern was the avail­ab­il­ity of park­ing, Fishtown res­id­ents voted in sup­port last Tues­day of Core Re­alty’s pro­pos­al for a “fam­ily-friendly en­ter­tain­ment” spot along Canal Street.

The as­sembly voted 86-25 in sup­port of the pro­ject, which was dis­cussed at length in the meet­ing last week, hos­ted by the Fishtown Neigh­bors As­so­ci­ation’s zon­ing com­mit­tee at the First Pres­by­teri­an Church of Kens­ing­ton on Gir­ard Av­en­ue.

The is­sues dis­cussed at the meet­ing will be ad­dressed in a let­ter to the Phil­adelphia City Plan­ning Com­mis­sion writ­ten by the FNA.

Core Re­alty met with the PCPC yes­ter­day to present the pro­pos­al, but it could take some time for a re­sponse—The FNA said in its present­a­tion that the PCPC’s de­cision is fi­nal, but could make ma­jor changes to the pro­pos­al. If so, it could come back up for dis­cus­sion at fu­ture com­munity meet­ings.

The plan was presen­ted as “phase one” of an ex­tens­ive over­haul of the area. The plan, presen­ted by de­veloper Mi­chael Sam­schick, pres­id­ent of Core Re­alty, would see a “re­pur­pos­ing” of two ex­ist­ing build­ings: the Ajax and Dry Ice build­ings.

Scott Page of urb­an plan­ning prac­tice In­ter­face Stu­dio, a con­sult­ant for Core Re­alty, made the primary present­a­tion at the meet­ing.

“[This pro­ject is] try­ing to save the build­ings and pre­serve their char­ac­ter,” he said. “We want to trans­form the look and feel of the area.”

He ad­ded, “We’re try­ing to over­come it be­ing so dis­con­nec­ted.”

The plan would bring a 3,000 per­son ca­pa­city LiveN­a­tion mu­sic ven­ue, a coun­try-west­ern themed bar, an 18-lane bowl­ing al­ley, a dis­til­lery and res­taur­ant, two re­tail spaces, and two lots un­der I-95 for park­ing.

As far as park­ing, the two lots would al­low space for 337 vehicles and 66 bi­cycles.

The plan, Page said, is to strike a bal­ance re­gard­ing park­ing.

“We want enough park­ing, but not seas of park­ing,” he said, adding that giv­en the pro­posed en­ter­tain­ment dis­trict’s loc­a­tion with­in cer­tain park­ing reg­u­la­tion over­lay areas, the plan could see between 400 and 600 park­ing spaces.

When one wo­man in at­tend­ance poin­ted out that the 337-spot pro­posed park­ing plan was only the min­im­um, Page said it was due to the area’s prox­im­ity to trans­it.

Sam­schick said a lar­ger park­ing struc­ture could be part of a later phase of the com­plete pro­ject.

Jill Bet­ters, pres­id­ent of the FNA, said it was a con­cern that the de­velopers had “no com­plete park­ing plan.”

“People choose to live in Fishtown be­cause it’s easy to park here,” she said after the meet­ing.

Henry Py­att, com­mer­cial cor­ridor man­ager for the New Kens­ing­ton Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion, sug­ges­ted at the meet­ing that Core Re­alty work with SEPTA to en­cour­age the use of pub­lic trans­it to the area.

The pro­ject would also see a tri­angle-shaped plaza off the Ajax build­ing that would be filled with green­ery and light­ing. An LED bill­board is also in­cluded in the plan, which raised the ire of some at­tendees.

Res­id­ents also had con­cerns about the LiveN­a­tion mu­sic ven­ue, which would bring ap­prox­im­ately 65 con­certs a year to the area. LiveN­a­tion’s spokes­man at the meet­ing as­sured the crowd that the ven­ue would bring a vari­ety of acts for fam­il­ies, chil­dren and teens.

The pro­ject was re­peatedly called “fam­ily-friendly.” Sam­schick and his col­league, Ran­dall Min­eo, said phase one of the pro­ject seeks to bring lar­ger na­tion­al “an­chor” busi­nesses to the dis­trict, which would in turn at­tract smal­ler, com­munity-fo­cused op­er­at­ors to the re­tail spaces.

He said the two re­tail spaces could be broken up to see four or five ten­ants in each.

Sam­schick said he hopes to be­gin the pro­ject as soon as pos­sible.

“This piece [of the pro­ject] is t he driver for all the things we’ve been wait­ing four years to do,” he said.”

A.J. Thompson, pres­id­ent of the Friends of Penn Treaty Park, ex­pressed his sup­port of the pro­ject at the meet­ing.

“This is the kind of de­vel­op­ment we’ve been lack­ing for 30 to 40 years,” he said.

“If we want the wa­ter­front to move for­ward, this is the kind of thing that will ig­nite it.”

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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