• Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.
      Learn about the conditions that led to Frank Furness' most incredible masterworks, including the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts seen here, on Wednesday.

Transit-oriented development opportunity at 59th and Market

Less than 200 feet from the 60th Street station on the Market-Frankford line is a vacant parcel filled with cars and a fenced-off former service station, but soon enough it could be a multi-story mixed-use development.

As PlanPhilly’s Kellie Patrick Gates reported last January, the Planning Commission released a study of West Market Street that encourages concentrating mixed-use development near the five El stops that were redone between 1999-2009. During that decade of construction, this stretch of Market Street was hit hard by disruptions to pedestrian and car traffic, businesses suffered, and vacancy climbed. Now it’s time to fill in the gaps and help bolster what remains.

Among the first action items to emerge from that plan is the "New West Transit-Oriented Development" (New West TOD) at 59th and Market streets. This week the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority (PRA) released a Request for Proposals for the 1.5-acre property at 59th and Market owned by the City and SEPTA.

The RFP describes the vision for the site as a “mid-rise, mixed use development concept with commercial space affording both office and retail uses. Multiple stories of workforce housing should be considered, as well as the provision of shared open spaces for building residents and workers.”

Developers may consider a public plaza along Market Street and are encouraged to include sustainable design features. Curiously on-site parking may also be considered by developers, but the RFP warns that parking "should be limited given the transit-oriented advantages of the parcel." On-site parking is objectionable to transit-oriented development purists, given that it undermines this key advantage. 

PRA spokeswoman Jamila Davis declined to answer specific questions about possible environmental remediation of the site due to its past as a gas station, desired future scale and density, the agency's recent preference for green design proposals, and reasons for considering on-site parking in proposed developments.
 
"We do not want influence [the competitive RFP] process in any way, and we do not want to disrupt the integrity and creativity of that process," said Davis.
 
The Planning Commission’s January 2013 study presented a concept for the site that included 30,000 square feet of commercial space, affordable housing, and a parking garage. It described possible commercial tenants as professional and medical offices, or national brand outlet stores.
 
No PRA funding has been dedicated to this project, so developers must demonstrate financial feasibility.  If all goes as planned developers should be selected in early May.
    • Conceptual rendering of mixed-use development at 59th and Market | Philadelphia City Planning Commission
      Conceptual rendering of mixed-use development at 59th and Market | Philadelphia City Planning Commission

About the author

Ashley Hahn, Editor, Eyes on the Street

Ashley writes and edits Eyes on the Street. She has a special interest in preservation, neighborhoods, and all things public – from policy to art. Ashley holds masters degrees in City and Regional Planning and Historic Preservation from PennDesign.

Ashley has lived in 12 zip codes that she can think of, including neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, New York and Philadelphia. She is proud to call 19147 home. 

Find Ashley on twitter @ashleyjhahn.


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