Developer Plans Mixed-Use Complex on Vacant Brownfield in South Kensington
By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor
A 2.5-acre vacant site in Philadelphia’s South Kensington that once housed the Absco Inc. steel plant could be redeveloped into an energy efficient mixed-use community. The development proposal comes from Canus Corporation, a local company that has already invested over $8 million in cleaning and decontaminating the site located at 2nd and Thompson Streets.
According to PlanPhilly.com, the developer started working on a redevelopment plan for this site in 2007 but the project had to be put on hold because of the recession. Reportedly, the original plan called Viridian included 160 condos and 16 artist studios. Now Canus is proposing a revised plan with a denser complex designed by BartonPartners that would also feature retail spaces, ground level parking and green areas and plazas accessible to the public.
The proposed 320-unit complex would break down to 2 percent live-work units, 12 percent studios of roughly 450 square feet each, 63 percent one-bedroom units and 23 percent two-bedroom units. According to PlanPhilly.com, the zoning committee suggested an increase in square footage per unit, which would lead to fewer residential units but would address the neighborhood’s main concern—that the area not become overpopulated.
If approved by the South Kensington Community Partners planning and zoning committee, Phase I of the Soko Lofts project could start in late fall with an estimated completion time of 12 months. During Phase I Canus will break ground on a four-story, L-shaped building along 2nd Street and a similar building at the corner of 2nd and Thompson Streets. A third building of up to seven stories will follow on American Street during Phase II. This structure will include a large lobby, street level commercial space and 50 covered parking spaces.
Rendering of Soko Lofts courtesy of PlanPhilly.com