191-unit complex in South Kensington goes through design review

Blackstone Development’s plan for a 191-unit, mixed-use project on an industrial parcel at Germantown Ave. and Thompson Street in South Kensington was subject to Civic Design Review Tuesday afternoon, and the review was largely positive. The project, designed by Harman Deutsch, requires variances for residential and commercial uses in an industrial district.

Leah Murphy, a representative to the CDR Committee from South Kensington Community Partners, said the developers had been responsive to the group’s concerns in meetings about the project, even removing around 50 residential units after neighbors said the project was too dense. In a letter to the Committee, she said the group has not yet voted on whether to officially support the project, which is adjacent to another large project on the American Street industrial corridor, Soko Lofts.

Committee Chair Nancy Rogo-Trainer said she had “no major issues” with the project, but suggested that the applicant, and all future applicants, use the LEED Certification scorecard to detail the sustainable elements of the proposal, even if they don’t intend to pursue LEED Certification.

The Committee applauded the developer for putting the parking facilities, containing 153 spaces, underground. It also recommended that the developers consider removing some of the pedestrian entrances into the courtyard of the project and widening others, while noting that the current design for those pathways was developed in conversation with SKCP.

A representative of Olde Kensington Neighbors Association, another Registered Community Organization in whose boundaries the project sits, asked that the developer meet with that group in addition to SKCP. Hercules Grigos, an attorney for the developers, said they would meet with the group.

PlanPhilly will have updates on this project as it moves through zoning.

About the author

Jared Brey, Zoning and development reporter

Jared Brey writes about development, zoning policy, and city government for He wasn't interested in being a reporter until halfway through a master's program in journalism at Temple University that he intended to parlay into an academic career. His work has appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News, City Paper, Business Journal, and Metropolis. 

Jared grew up in Montgomery County and moved to Philadelphia in 2005. He has since lived in Brewerytown, the Italian Market, North Central, Bella Vista, and East Passyunk. He believes he will stay in South Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter @jaredbrey, or send him tips at

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