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  #141  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2009, 7:47 AM
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PHILADELPHIA: Chinatown North and Reading Viaduct



Chinatown Gate
photo credit: www.aviewoncities.com




photo credit: nickcarey

Reading Viaduct



photo credit: www.readingviaduct.org



The two spurs of the Reading Viaduct come together near Noble St. and eventually led into Reading Terminal

photo credit: egoldin




photo credit: ronin47


from here:http://planphilly.com/node/9435


Discussion of the future of Chinatown North

July 23, 2009
By Kellie Patrick Gates
For PlanPhilly

Residents of Chinatown North gathered at the Theresa Hu Center Wednesday night to talk about the future of their neighborhood – the part of Chinatown split off by the Vine Street Expressway.

The discussion, sponsored by the Asian Arts Initiative and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, hinged around a status report of the 2004 Neighborhood Plan for Chinatown and Callowhill, which was developed by the PCDC and John R. Gibbons, director of architecture for Kise Straw & Kolodner architects and planners after many months of community input. (KSK was hired by the Delaware Regional Planning Commission through a grant from the William Penn Foundation).

Based on the discussion last night, the community wants the same things it did then: Development that includes a significant amount of low-income housing. More green space and recreational opportunities for families. Education and help, including English language instruction, for immigrants. A wider variety of businesses. And oh, how they wish the Vine Street Expressway could be capped.

Some of the things outlined in the plan have happened, or soon will, said Gibbons and PCDC Executive Director John Chin.

Many trees have been planted through neighborhood streets since 2004, and Franklin Square has been revitalized into a recreation space utilized by neighborhood residents and many other people. Many new homes have been built – most of them at market rate. Even more are planned, Gibbons said, but work has been slowed by the economy.

This year, work will soon begin on a small park with green space, benches, and pergola at 10th and Vine.

In March, improvements will start on 10th Street, from Race to Callowhill, to make it both more beautiful and safer, Chin said. This includes new sidewalks, lighting upgrades and more trees. Also to help pedestrians, more on-street parking was added along Vine Street as a way to slow down traffic, he said.

Another important element: Transforming the abandoned Reading Viaduct that crosses the neighborhood into a park, somewhat like New York City's High Line Park. This is one of the pieces that took a lot of discussion prior to the 2004 plan. In fact, there is still some disagreement about how much of the viaduct should be kept, and how much should be demolished.

A Commerce Department study found it would cost about $5 million to turn the entire length into a bare-bones park and $35 million to completely dismantle it.

The Neighborhood Plan calls for removing a section of the Viaduct, and creating a grade-level park. Gibbons said the removal would help provide space for high-density development where there would otherwise be irregularly shaped building lots.

But Sarah McEneaney, vice president of the Callowhill Neighbors Association and a founder of an organization that is trying to save the Viaduct, said the irregular lots would just result in buildings with character, and the Viaduct could serve as a link between neighborhoods. McEneaney brought up the Commerce Department study, and said it would be much cheaper to keep the entire viaduct.

Andrew Toy, a board member of PCDC, said that demolishing the section from Vine to Green would cost significantly less than demolishing the whole thing – between $11 million and $13 million. He said it took a lot of time to come up with the compromise in the neighborhood plan, and he was concerned that continued disagreement could postpone movement on the project.

An often heated Chinatown topic – the proposed Foxwoods Casino – did not come up until close to the end of the three-hour session, when one man asked through an interpreter what impact the casino would have on the long-range neighborhood plan. Another man added that he hoped that Spina would lobby for the plan if the casino would have a negative impact on it when the City Planning Commission reviews Foxwoods' proposal for Market and 8th.

The PCDC and Asian Arts Initiative representatives said they hope to keep the discussion going with future events. Spina said residents should watch for a City Planning meeting sometime this fall. The City is creating a new comprehensive plan, she said, and will hold meetings around the city to hear what residents want in their neighborhoods.

Last edited by bucks native; Jul 25, 2009 at 9:24 AM.
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  #142  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2009, 8:22 AM
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some details

from here: http://www.planphilly.com/node/9425


July 21
By Thomas J. Walsh
For PlanPhilly

Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission was packed with seemingly significant development proposals, zoning implications and policy. But observers were left wondering what much of it will mean in the long run.

Philly Live, exclamation point, in its latest incarnation, was presented in “information only” mode to the Commissioners, which means it carries no recommendations from the Planning Commission staff.

Gary Block, vice president in charge of Philly Live for Cordish, said the development would be one of the company’s “lifestyle urban entertainment complexes” that have become “kind of our forte.”

He showed renderings of what the gleaming facilities would look like from various angles. Block and an architect showed what was described as “a market-style building that opens up to park-like seating before or after the game.”

Philadelphia is the only city in the country right now with a stadium complex where all four major American sports have home teams. Block said that there is at least one event at the complex more than 300 days a year. “When you talk to prospective tenants, their eyes just bug out of their heads” at that fact, he said.

But as detailed as it seems, the project is far from certain. And aside from a mild request from one Commissioner asking that the developer do what they can to incorporate the Broad Street subway station into the plans, no questions were asked.

Schelter’s list of unasked questions was similar to PlanPhilly’s. Though Block said the company would furnish many more parking spaces than called for in the plan, there was no mention of how parking and traffic at Philly Live would impact parking and traffic during home games for any of the teams.

Other factors which will presumably be made public later:
• The impact on existing infrastructure (specifically, but not limited to, the subway, the surrounding surface streets and interstates 95 and 76)
• Impact on the Navy Yard and port
• Impact on the surrounding neighborhoods (though there was an assurance that neighbors’ “reaction has been fantastic,” there was nobody representing a neighborhood or the South Philly Sports District who testified)
• Details on the 300-room hotel, or if there is a hotel company onboard, or interested
• Any mention at all of eight other buildings mentioned on the agenda for the meeting
• Retailers, and types of retail
• Environmental factors, such as possible remediation, or green buildings

The agenda’s description of the information-only presentation for Philly Live said, “The structures are proposed to be constructed in a fashion which will provide a practical and visual connection between the existing Wachovia Center and Citizens Bank Park. The development will reduce available parking by approximately 700 parking spaces however the proposal will still exceed the required parking for the District.
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  #143  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2009, 2:56 PM
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I think it would be a good idea if there wasn't so damn much parking..
But it's taking the place of parking lots as well and some of that parking is for the Linc and the Wachovia Center. Keep in mind that this is designed to make suburban visitors to the sports complex stay a lot longer and spend money in the city.
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  #144  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2009, 3:20 PM
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If this does end up getting built, I hope someone decides to tack on a housing component near Pattison Station - seems like a good opportunity for TOD. Just a quick idea.
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  #145  
Old Posted Jul 25, 2009, 10:06 PM
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Wait!! No 50 thousand foot indoor water slide / bungee jump platform / ski slope like the meadowlands?? Waste of time .. J/k..
It's a malll in the middle of a sports complex. Could be a good idea or just... another mall.

Should be nice.
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  #146  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 3:15 AM
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Destroying even the portion of the Viaduct would mean losing a significant portion of the possible park space...While I agree that some bit of the Viaduct has to be dismantled near Vine St., I would prefer it just be the bit between Vine and Wood, for a grand (plaza) entrance into a linear park.

I also notice that Vine-to-Green = ~90% of the Viaduct (Green's north of Spring Garden)...given my desire to retain the Viaduct, it is an entirely untenable proposition. The bit north of Green is less important, unless one wants to make a greenway that goes all the way to Temple, since it's only a few blocks, but the bit that be turned into a park park lies entirely south of it. So the 'compromise' sounds like a 'compromise' but is in fact an all-out victory for those too blind to see the Viaduct's promise.
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  #147  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 3:21 AM
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But it's taking the place of parking lots as well and some of that parking is for the Linc and the Wachovia Center. Keep in mind that this is designed to make suburban visitors to the sports complex stay a lot longer and spend money in the city.
Yes, but you can easily condense all the necessary parking into a few gigantogarages clustered along the Schuylkill and 95 and open the rest of those surface lots to development, along with a shuttle between major city parking centers (also mostly garage-based)...a proposal I've long advocated.
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  #148  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 4:16 AM
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http://www.philaplanning.org/plans/stationsquare.pdf
Now if only I could cut and paste the pictures out of the document...
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  #149  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 4:20 AM
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The viaduct's northern end is in the Richard Allen Homes, so at that point the greenway might as well be cantelievered from the active rail viaduct (can't recall the actual name right now) and terminate at Cecil B. Moore Ave. so that it connects to Temple. An elevated bike path from the university to Center City would be extremely popular. The only real obstacle seems to be the industrial building at 9th and Poplar.
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  #150  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 4:23 AM
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First of all, let's make sure the Viaduct south of Green doesn't get destroyed! I don't know where they're coming up with the $13 mil figure when they say it'll cost $35 mil to destroy the whole thing (and only about $5 mil to turn it into a park).

We have to make our voices heard!...How? How can we show the success the High Line has can be replicated there? (In fact, Callowhill and Chelsea are very similar in terms of traditional neighborhood complexion.)
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  #151  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 7:10 AM
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We have to make our voices heard!...How? How can we show the success the High Line has can be replicated there? (In fact, Callowhill and Chelsea are very similar in terms of traditional neighborhood complexion.)
go here to support - nice slideshow: http://www.readingviaduct.org/

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Center City District should be encouraged to take active parts in this effort; each are respected, influential and GET THINGS DONE!

The Reading Viaduct Project is seeking the support of State and local officials and government agencies for its vision of a redeveloped Viaduct. We are also actively exploring partnerships with private developers who share in our vision of the adaptive reuse of the Viaduct as a catalyst for continued residential and commercial development of the surrounding neighborhoods.

**Reading Viaduct Project (RVP) is in no way connected with the Reading Company, owners of the Viaduct.

If you would like more information about Reading Viaduct Project, please send an email to info@readingviaduct.org. Please check back for updated information.





photo credit: readingviaduct.org

Last edited by bucks native; Jul 26, 2009 at 7:31 AM.
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  #152  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 2:34 PM
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I really wish that they would tear that viaduct down already. It is so outrageously ugly, and all that steel should be recycled since it's a finite resource. That viaduct just screams decline and I don't see how that neighborhood moves forward with it. Anyway you slice it, it's going to cost millions of dollars to change any aspect of it
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  #153  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 2:35 PM
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^ No tailgating in garages. I could see that being a major issue for eagles and phillies games and concerts
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  #154  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 2:41 PM
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^Wow! Now that's what I call an impressive lack of foresight.
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  #155  
Old Posted Jul 26, 2009, 8:41 PM
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Parking Garge? Gigantogarage? No way! As previously stated, tailgaiting would be wiped out! And, could you imagine what people, thousands of people, would do after drinking! The damage, accidents, urine, trash, and exhaust when exiting would be awful! No a very green idea for a city trying to grab that as an identity. Besides, there is no need or demand for that much building space down there.
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  #156  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2009, 1:21 AM
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Anyone know what the small extension on the north side of the expansion is supposed to be?
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  #157  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2009, 1:48 AM
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only $5 million to turn the entire expanse into a park? wow. do it already. do you realize how much private investment it would spur along the line? many multiples of $5 million.

tearing the viaduct down when there is evidence of how great of a civic space it could be (just 90 miles north) is just downright short-sighted.

but then again...chinatown isn't known for it's planning prowess. this is the same neighborhood - the only one in Center City - which lobbied - successfully - for exclusion from the Center City district. the result - the place smells and looks like a cesspool much of the year (esp when the weather is hot and humid).

even andy toy must now how short-sighted this is...and i refuse to let $35 million in my tax dollars be used to destroy something with so much potential.

the city has been doing a much better job with it's civic spaces of late. witness improvements to the schuykill river trail and franklin square park. i was just over in franklin square this evening. it is lovely...and even though it is somewhat removed from chinatown...it is well-utilized by chinatown's residents. i'd estimate that 60% of the people in the park were asian. they should just trust the city on this one. the reading viaduct could be a gem...especially if it went all the way to temple. hell...i'd use it to get to chinatown...i could walk west on brown and pick it up past the old richard allen homes. that would be AWESOME.
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  #158  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2009, 3:47 AM
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Hmm, glad to see people's attitudes are positive on this one! I just threw that up there this morning to see what kind of reaction it would generate, and I'm glad to see that people are high on this idea. I do hope that they remove all of the wires though. How structurally sound is the viaduct? I have a feeling it's going to cost way more than $5 million to make the necessary improvements.
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  #159  
Old Posted Jul 27, 2009, 4:27 AM
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Originally Posted by 1SharpeMan View Post
Parking Garge? Gigantogarage? No way! As previously stated, tailgaiting would be wiped out! And, could you imagine what people, thousands of people, would do after drinking! The damage, accidents, urine, trash, and exhaust when exiting would be awful! No a very green idea for a city trying to grab that as an identity. Besides, there is no need or demand for that much building space down there.
Well then, how does every other city of our density in this country maintain their stadium-side parking garages? I like tailgating as much as the next person, and surely some tailgate lots will persevere for some time, but honestly, do you need miles and miles of asphalt for that singular purpose?
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2009, 4:50 AM
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I'm pretty sure structural soundness won't be so much of an issue...this viaduct and the High Line date to a similar era built by similar RR co's with similar fortunes who built their stuff in similar ways, so if it's doable in NY it should be doable here. And of course it was the threat of demolition that led to the formation of the Friends of the High Line, which itself led to the redevelopment of the High Line. Not only that, but the Reading Viaduct and the High Line both run through similar neighborhoods, fabric-wise; the fact that the redevelopment of the High Line spurred gentrification in Chelsea demonstrates in no uncertain terms that with proper Viaduct redevelopment, Callowhill will gentrify. (Not that it isn't gentrifying already; but it's doing so at a glacial pace.)

The wires are part and parcel of the transformers at 11th and Noble; with SEPTA building a new transformer array up along the Viaduct at Fairmount they should go away. However, the catenary should remain, to remind people this was once an electrified line, one that Silverliners traversed.

It would be nice if the Friends of the Viaduct website was updated more frequently IMO; it's like Tiwanaku; the illusion of activity can generate real activity. So if the website seems to be active then people'll believe they're for real and many more could do something like, say, join a real, live petition effort. Because this Viaduct is a gem and it would be an egregious miscue to let it be demolished.

It's also nice to see me and Inga in agreement on this front. Indeed, there is no reason why it shouldn't work, and redevelopment of the Viaduct now has the twofold benefits of putting people to work now and preparing the park for when the economy improves later. Remember, even when the High Line was being actively redeveloped Chelsea was gentrifying alongside it just on expectation, and since it's only opened now, when there isn't much development going on anywhere in the country, it's probable that the gentrification cycle will continue there when the economy improves.

To my mind, the Park would feature grand entrances at 1) Vine, 2) Broad and Noble, and 3) Spring Garden (both Vine and Spring Garden being along the Viaduct). In addition, not only can we build a path north to Temple, but we can extend it south to the Convention Center, and west all the way to the Schuylkill. Like the High Line, though, the first part of our park will be the core, the area where redevelopment's cheapest.
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