Plans Released for Massive South Philly Development: 2,002 Residential Units + Hotel + Retail

Liberty on the river building 1 rendering 3
Liberty on the River rendering

Plans just dropped for a massive mixed-use development at 1341 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd. in South Philly along the Delaware River. The project is dubbed Liberty on the River. The multi-stage, six-building plan calls for a total of 2,002 residential units, a 208 room hotel, 43,000 square feet of retail, and 1,378 parking spaces over more than 3 million gross square feet.

Liberty on the river site context
Liberty on the River Site Context
Liberty on the river current conditions
Liberty on the River current site conditions

The development is situated on an 18-acre site just south of Washington Avenue that is currently sitting mostly vacant. Part of the development site does seem to include the back parking lot of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Local Union No. 19. The development team has tranferred 2.26 acres of the site to the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) to extend the riverfront trail. They also gave the DRWC an additional 7.23 acres for reasons we are not completely clear about at this moment.

Liberty on the river site plan
Liberty on the River site plan
Liberty on the river site plan 1
Liberty on the River site plan

The first stage of this project will be Building 1. Building 1 is planned to be a 23-story, 244 foot tall, 929,499 square foot, mixed-use building. The structure will include a four-story podium composed of ground-floor retail and parking. There will be five retail spaces totaling 21,673 square feet. Building 1 will include 729 residential units, 426 parking spots, and 252 bike parking spaces.

No timetable or ground breaking date has been announced and no permits have been pulled for the property to our knowledge. In 2002, a $1 billion, multi-building, mixed-use project was announced for this property. Obviously, it did not happen. We hope that this project does not experience a similar fate.

Liberty on the River Building 1 rendering

We are most excited for the river trail to be expanded through this parcel. We appreciate the residential density and commercial aspects of this project, but the site is disconnected from the city grid. It is kind of out on its own island as Delaware Ave. / Christopher Columbus Blvd. separates the site from the rest of the city. The 6+ lane mini highway does not make for a pleasant pedestrian experience. We are actually surprised to see that there will be less parking spaces than residential units included in this project. It is hard to walk to any major employment centers from this site. Residents would need to take two buses over 30-40 minutes to get to Center City.

We have seen other riverfront projects up and down the Delaware struggle and fail over the years. We wish the project team success and look forward to watching these towers rise. The development surely will make an impact on the skyline and will add a lot more residents to South Philly. The project will appear before the non-binding Civic Design Review (CDR) on May 7th.

Liberty on the River rendering
Liberty on the River Building 1 rendering

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