The East Falls Development Corp partnering with a developer to improve parking in Riverfront Business District.
The EFDC is always looking for ways to expand and improve parking in the Riverfront Business District. We just finished adding 10 new spaces to the 4200 block of Ridge Avenue! Now, there is a chance to improve parking in the 4400 block.
How Properties plans to develop a 132 unit apartment building at t 4420 Ridge Ave (aka 4501 Kelly Drive). How Properties wants to use the adjacent publicly owned parking lot for overflow parking for the development and for the public. Gary Jonas, the owner, is planning to make improvements to the lot.
We plan to partner with How Properties on this project because we want to improve parking and move us closer to having a connecting street between Ridge Ave. and Kelly Drive at this location.
The EFDC has been planning this for years. Recently, we worked with City Planning to incorporate the community design priorities into the “Lower Northwest Plan.” That Plan was approved by the Planning Commission in 2014. Relevant to this discussion is an approved plan for a new through street in the 4400 blocks of Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive and a boat landing on the river across from the new through street. The new through street idea came out of the community planning process that undergirded East Falls Reconnects to the River. It would be built to Complete Streets standards – to the extent possible.
The public land between the old West River Japanese Restaurant and Castle Ringstetten has been used for parking for decades. Both adjacent parcels have drives directly into the lot. The parking lot is in poor condition and has not access directly onto Ridge Avenue. How’s improvements would build it out fully and attractively, with a drive onto Ridge Avenue.
Reasons for the through street:
- In the planning charrettes, people said they wanted more connections to the River – the proposed river landing is across Kelly Drive from the street.
- This new street would create needed vehicle circulation in this block -once a northbound vehicle passes along this block, there is no convenient way to return to East Falls. A vehicle has to travel about a mile to make a legal turn. The alternative is a U-turn on Ridge Ave or Lincoln Drive or using a business parking lot in Manayunk to reverse direction.
- Elimination of two Kelly Drive curb cuts. Currently, both Castle Ringstetten and 4501 Kelly Drive have curb cuts on Kelly Drive. With a new street, there is the possibility of eliminating those curb cuts and giving them ingress/egress onto to the through road. This could be safer.
- River landing. The highest priority project for the East Falls Riverfront Business District, based on the planning work that went into the Lower Northwest Plan, is the boat landing. It is also one of the top five priority projects of the East Park Coalition, a group of organizations that are working together to better to park. The landing would be off the 17 space parking lot on Kelly Drive across from the How Properties site and the parking lot. It is planned as a 160 foot path to the river with a simple ‘apron’ onto the water. It is for human powered boats only – canoes, kayaks, paddleboards. More parking and/or a connecting street would support the river landing.
EFDC requirements for undertaking the partnership:
The EFDC wants to be involved in this project because it furthers our goals. To this end, we have established these criteria for participation:
- Find out if the through street with parking is feasible. We have hired a civil engineer to take us through the conceptual approval process with Streets and PennDOT to see whether the street would be permitted and under what conditions (for ex. right in, right out or traffic signal required, or one way only).
- We document that the parking lot use is temporary while the EFDC secures funding for the street (if feasible).
- That the EFDC Design Committee review the building and te parking lot plan to ensure that the building and the lot are attractive (included in this is that the two community groups, East Falls Forward and East Falls Community Council collaborate with us in these design discussions).
- How Properties carries all of the costs of building, maintaining, and insuring the lot.