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Site of Deadly South Philadelphia Pier Collapse May Become Rental Apartments

(Artist's rendering of Pier 34-35 project, provided by Ensemble Investments LLC.)

(Artist’s rendering of Pier 34-35 project, provided by Ensemble Investments LLC.)

Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Mike Dunn is City Hall bureau chief for KYW Newsradio 1060. He covers...
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By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A developer plans a new apartment building at the site of one of Philadelphia’s worst waterfront tragedies: the Pier 34 collapse in 2000 that killed three women.

Awaiting approval from the city’s Planning Commission is a proposal for a two-tower apartment complex on Piers 34 and 35, south of Penn’s Landing.

Ron Patterson, attorney for developer Louis Cicalese, lays out the plan:

“A ten- and seventeen- story structure on the pier, having 209 residential units for rent, with first-floor retail and lobby amenities, and with a two-story garage on the second floor.”

Pier 34 is a site with a dark history. Twelve years ago, a nightclub that was built at the end of the pier collapsed into the water, and three young women drowned.

City commerce director Alan Greenberger is pleased to see a new development at that location.

“It certainly means there’s interest in the waterfront, and that’s a good thing,” he tells KYW Newsradio.

The Planning Commission put off a vote earlier this week.  Greenberger says members have concerns about the first-floor retail component, and public access to the waterfront.

“The commission still wants to see some relatively small further changes that will enhance the public experience of the building: the presence of more robust retail possibilities on Delaware Avenue, the opportunity to experience a little bit more of the river,” he says.

Patterson, the developer’s attorney, believes the commission’s requests are fair.

“Of course we’d like to move as quickly as possible, because we have windows of opportunity to construct and finance.  But I think they are very good and relevant comments addressing retail, and public access, the ability of the public to benefit as part of the pier,” he said.

Greenberger anticipates revisions by the developer and a possible commission vote next month.

Also before the Planning Commission — although far from a vote — is a separate proposal for a much more massive apartment complex, with nearly 1,500 units, at Delaware Avenue and Callowhill Street.

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