Logan Square: developments and a history lesson

    • Free Library of Philadelphia's proposed new public space
      Free Library of Philadelphia's proposed new public space
    • Another look at the library project
      Another look at the library project
    • Proposed cafe at Sister Cities park
      Proposed cafe at Sister Cities park
    • More possibilities for Sister Cities park
      More possibilities for Sister Cities park
    • Granary building proposal, with a view of Shamokin Street
      Granary building proposal, with a view of Shamokin Street
    • Granary building proposal, showing added stories
      Granary building proposal, showing added stories
    • Granary location, with landmarks
      Granary location, with landmarks
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From the revamping of a former grain distribution center into apartments to the addition of a brain - and a bright new space - to go with the Franklin Institute's heart, Central Philadephia Development Corporation Executive Director Paul Levy noticed the beginning of the transformation in Logan Square.

So, he invited people behind a slew of projects - in various stages of the proposal and approval process - to speak to his organization Thursday night.

Check out the Logan Square Neighborhood Association Parkway plan

In addition to outlining their hopes for the future, many of the presenters, including Levy, spoke of the past of the buildings and sites they are now working with. This included many interesting old photos.

Here is a summary of what was discussed. To learn more, watch the presentations in the videos.

-James Pearlstein, founder and president of Pearl Properties, talked about his hopes to turn the last remaining grain elevator in the city into a mixed-use development. The building is so solidly built that it is hard to change the existing portion very much, he said. Twelve new floors wouldmake space for 85 apartments. Ideas for the grain shafts include a climbing wall for the gym and a rain-water storage tank. The proposal would also re-open Shamokin Street.

-Richard D. Rabena, vice president of operations for the Franklin Institute, and architect Peter Saylor told the story of how the Institute was originally supposed to have four sides, but only two were built when times got tough. An addition means that the designer's original vision won't ever happen, they said, but the planned expansion attempts to meld the new with the old seemlessly, in part with modern interpretations of the old design elements.

-David Schaaf, director of the city planning commission's urban design division, spoke of the creation of the current Family Court building - a twin to the library next door. He described an interior filled with art and character, and showed a mock-up of how the building could potentially be transformed into a hotel. His department will Friday issue a design RFP. See previous coverage here.

-Ahmad S. Corbitt, director of the New York Office of the Church of Latter Day Saints, spoke of  gardens and a geneology research center that would be open to the public if the Mormon Temple becomes a reality on the Parkway. Corbitt explained that temples are much different from Mormon churches. Temples are more sacred spaces, and there are only about 130 in the country, he said. The closest ones to Philadelphia now are in New York and Washington, he said. Corbitt's presentation includes images of the proposed Vine Street site with a temple in place, but that is just an example. The Philadelphia design has not been completed, he said.

-Levy spoke about the Center City District's plans for Sister Cities Park, which is located between Swann Fountain and the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. Plans include a cafe, a boat pond for the "sailing" of miniature boats, and an interactive fountain - the kind a person can run and play in - where each jet of water will represent one of Philly's sister cities. The size of each jet would be based on the city's population, Levy said, so it would be educational as well.

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About the author

Kellie Patrick Gates, Waterfront, casinos, planning reporter

Kellie Patrick Gates writes about planning, neighborhood development and the Central Delaware Waterfront. A journalist for more than two decades, she  worked for daily newspapers in Central Pennsylvania, Upstate New York and South Florida before coming to Philadelphia in 2003 to write for the Inquirer. Her work has appeared on PlanPhilly since 2007, and she also writes Love, the Inquirer's weekly wedding column. A native of Elk County, Pa., Kellie lives with her husband, Gary, and their dog and two cats.

Follow her on Twitter @KelliePGates

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