For years, developers have come to Society Hill residents with proposed high-rise buildings for the former NewMarket site that were about as palatable as shoe leather.
One by one, each of the developers, including actor and Philadelphia native Will Smith, have eventually given up, either after being rejected by neighbors or unfriendly credit markets. But a proposal by luxury home builder Toll Bros. for mid-rise condominiums appears to have the best chance yet of becoming a reality.
The company made an informational presentation yesterday to the city Planning Commission on their plans for a four-story, 69-unit building.
The property, which stretches from Front to Second Street and from Pine Street to Lombard, would feature a public promenade, green space and 108 underground parking spaces.
None of the residents in attendance voiced opposition.
"The one thing that we knew is we're not going to force something down the neighbors' throats if they don't want it, so we came to them with our 'A' game," Brian Emmons, vice president of Toll Bros.' local office, said after the meeting.
"We put together a project we thought we could sell at this location that was not going to be a high-rise and we think there's value in not being a high-rise."
The previous proposal, Stamper Square, was for a 15-story hotel and condo project, but fizzled out due to finances. Toll swooped in and bought the property last year.
Steve Weixler, president of the Society Hill Civic Association, said the Toll project is the closest they've come to real development at the site, which some say is cursed.
"I'm really optimistic that Toll will be able to develop a design that really fits into the neighborhood a lot better than anything we've seen so far," Weixler said, noting that the group has not formally voted on the project yet.
"It's been a tough battle. A historic district really throws in a lot of complications to development."