Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dead-Ass Proposal of the Week-- September 1st

World Trade Square

Columbus Avenue, Callowhill to Noble Streets

This came so close so never happening... oh wait, it didn't!
                     This right here is a goddamn travesty. This dead-ass proposal exposes the fact that a little squadron of neighborhood NIMBYs is all it takes to kill a three million square-foot mixed-use megastructure. This beast of beasts might have been the savior of the Delaware waterfront... if its plan had gone forward, the many other waterfront building proposals from the same era may have gotten started.
                     It all started with the Carl Marx Real Estate Group. This company was trying to get into the waterfront real estate game, banking on future development of the Delaware River Waterfront. These motherfuckers took a huge gamble. They bought a shitload of empty lots and buildings, wheeling and dealing with numerous property owners, in order to assemble one gigantic 5.3 acre parcel in the name of their affiliate, Waterfront Renaissance Associates
                     Waterfront Renaissance set the goal of building a goddamn Greater Philadelphia World Trade Center. They went up to Alesker and Dundon Architects and was like "Listen, motherfuckers! We need a huge goddamn super-complex that'll take four phases to build! You've got 5.3 acres to fill, you bastards!".
                       In response, the architects gave them a design for twin 636-foot office buildings, a 435-foot residential tower, a 324-foot Greater Philadelphia World Trade Center, a 2,149 space parking garage, and 118,00 square feet of street-level retail!

I didn't say it was pretty.
                    Essentially, it would be a city upon itself. At first, everything seemed to be going very well with this project. Even the Delaware River Port Authority got into it and invested millions of dollars. Mayor after Mayor backed it up. The parcel got Keystone Opportunity Zone status.  No one could stop this thing! No one! Well, they were wrong. Wrong as shit.
                     How do you kill a one billion dollar project? How do you derail 20 years of assorted work? NIMBYs. First, they went for the design. Three civic associations haggled with the developer over each and every detail. Waterfront complied to their demands... everything was still a GO even with the NIMBYs. Did you see that rendering? There's barely any neighbors! How could three civic associations be involved?
                    By the time 2006 rolled around, permits were being gathered and construction was imminent. Then some Old City NIMBYs who had nothing to with this project (and probably didn't even know about it) pushed City Council into voting for a 65-foot height limit in and around Old City, bringing death to this and many other projects, costing developers millions upon millions of dollars. Thanks, assholes.
                   The worst part is that World Trade Square could BARELY be considered part of Old City. Barely. Even the councilman who brought up the bill publicly regretted including their parcel in the restriction. That small error killed this massive economy-boosting project. Dumbass.
                    Waterfront Associates sued the city in 2007 for fucking them out of the millions and millions of dollars already invested in the project. They got their asses kicked in court by the time the bullshit went to trial in March of 2011. Why? Because the city repealed/suspended the height restriction in March of 2010, so the lawsuit was rendered moot.
                  It's such a damn tragedy. Without that stupid height restriction, its pretty certain that this thing would have been built. Maybe not all the phases would get done, but SOMETHING would get completed and lead to further growth. This never had to happen... this is probably one of the city's greatest blunders.
Jesus can often be found weeping in front of the butt-fugly storage bin sea that is the World Trade Square site.


  1. Liberalism killed that and many other developments. Taxpayer subsidized solar panels & pie-in-the-sky high speed rail are the only construction related activity that liberals approve. Can't build or sustain a country with that attitude.

  2. See my book, "Philadelphia's Lost Waterfront," for the history of this peculiar plot of land, which was once Reading RR property and didn't even exist before, say, 1830, as it's all "made-earth". This is where Pegg's Run once drained into the Delaware...

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