A proposed apartment building on Spruce Street may run afoul of historic preservation rules

Renderings of the proposed 24-unit apartment building, in the context of its surroundings on Spruce Street in Philadelphia.

The proposed seven-story, 24-unit apartment building on Spruce Street, across from the Kimmel Center, was rejected by the Historical Commission’s Architectural Committee on Tuesday. Members criticized its design and said it stood out too much from the historical context surrounding it.

The developer, David Low, wants to demolish a two-story building at 1423 Spruce St. It dates back to 1980, but is under preservation protection in the Rittenhouse-Fitler Historic District.

“When we bought this building, [I thought we] “It can be seven stories high for our economical price,” Lu said. “We bought this lot as a one-bedroom development for local people, not upper-middle-class workers.”

The proposed building would consist of 12 studio apartments of up to 400 square feet and 12 bedrooms of 550 square feet. There will also be commercial space on the first floor.

The current structure is not considered to contribute to the larger historic district, as it is only 43 years old.

But the Historical Commission still has the authority to approve or deny planned construction of “non-contributing” properties in the area to ensure their historic suitability. Personality that is preserved.

Law presented his project to the commission’s architectural advisory panel last month, where it faced criticism. He returned again on Tuesday and faced more objections.

“What concerns me is that the crowding is still not compatible with the adjacent neighbors, and that the choice of materials on the east and west is indescribable,” committee member Nan Guterman said. “It looks like a box, and it doesn’t contribute to building the neighborhood.”

While the commission’s opinions do not determine how the entire Historical Commission will rule, the developers would rather have its blessing than not.

In an analysis of the proposal, commission staff also argued against approval because the building’s height and materials “are inconsistent with the historical context.”

Project architect Zoda He said that although the proposed building is taller than its immediate neighbors, the street has much larger buildings. That is why the developer has not reduced the size of the plans despite criticism from the committee last month.

“We see two high-rise buildings on each corner of this one, and we also have the huge Kimmel Center across the street,” he said. “Our seven-story building is actually not the largest building in this neighborhood or on this block.”

The developer should try to preserve the middle row, at least to some extent, commissioners said. They also noted that the plans they received did not show how the proposal’s windows would line up with its neighbors or how the roof deck would be laid out.

Some members suggested that the building’s dimensions could be adjusted to keep its lower levels in line with its neighbors, maintain grade, and then set the upper floors back from the street.

“Yes, there are taller buildings on both ends, and that happens often, but this is a row of buildings that are the same height,” said Justin Detwiler, an architect who is on the committee. “But to me, this box interrupts a fairly consistent street scene.”

The Architectural Committee voted for the second time to recommend rejection. Lo can take his case to the full Historical Commission to vote up or down or make changes and submit it to the Architectural Commission again.

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