205 Race construction to begin next year, developer says

Construction on the long-vacant lot at the corner of 2nd and Race streets in Old City should begin by the first quarter of next year, according to Jeffrey Brown, one of the developers who has planned a 148-unit apartment complex at the site.

“We’re looking forward to actually getting started,” Brown told PlanPhilly Tuesday morning after a presentation to the Historical Commission’s architecture committee.

This is the developers’ third push to build on the site. The Historical Commission “reviewed and commented favorably” on a separate proposal in 2005 that never got off the ground.

In 2012, the developers submitted new proposals which met some opposition from neighbors related particularly to the height of the building, which will be 197 feet at its tallest point.

At Tuesday’s meeting, several neighbors once again objected to the scale of the building, while taking pains to compliment the architects and developers on “creating something that is not banal,” as one neighbor said.

Rob Kettell, a former member of the now-defunct Old City Civic Association, said the scale doesn’t fit the historic character of the neighborhood.

“I don’t think it’s a bad building, I just think that it belongs on Market Street,” said Bette Woolsey, who lives on the 200 block of Race.

The architecture committee reminded neighbors that the committee has no regulatory power over the site and that height is outside of its purview. The corner of 2nd and Race sits within the Old City historic district but, as a vacant lot, is not individually designated historic.

At any rate, the building is designed to be built by right after an overlay was put into place by City Council to allow the project to proceed. The developers are claiming floor-area bonuses for providing mixed-income housing and achieving LEED-Gold certification.

The proposal still needs advisory Civic Design Review and review by the full Historical Commission. The developers have already applied for a building permit.

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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