Full Steam Ahead for Scotts Lane Development

Last hurdle has been cleared for 92-unit residential complex 

By now you’ve no doubt heard about the new housing going up in that empty lot by the railroad tracks on Scotts Lane. The project’s last required public meeting popped up suddenly on the Tuesday after Memorial Day — seems the developers were squeezing us in right under the wire, to check this off their list before facing their last hurdle: a hearing with the Civic Design Review (CDR), a committee that’s supposed to help raise the bar on Philadelphia design.

Like many other large cities, Philly requires developers of large-scale projects (anything over 100,000 sq ft/100 units) to present their plans to a committee of design/planning/architecture/etc experts who weigh in on everything from scale, parking & traffic considerations to landscaping, lighting & HVAC.

Not that it matters — Philly’s CDR has no teeth. Their input is completely non-binding, so it’s no surprise that barely 1/3rd of all CDR-reviewed projects are actually built in accordance with their recommendations. So keep that in mind when you’re reading this CDR report summarizing the committee’s findings for Scotts Lane (click here for latest renderings):

June 5, 2019

Re:  Civic Design Review for 3449 Scotts Lane (Application No. 949725)

The Civic Design Review (CDR) Committee of the City Planning Commission completed the required review of a proposed multi-family residential development at 3449 Scotts Lane.

The parcel is zoned RM-1 and is located on the shared boundary of the East Falls and Paradise neighborhoods. The site is located between the Roosevelt Expressway (US 1) and SEPTA’s Manayunk-Norristown Line.  It is located behind the former Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute (EPPI).

The proposal is for 92 residential units contained in single townhomes, duplexes, and triplexes. The Department of Licenses and Inspections did not identify any zoning variances or refusals, and has issued a conditional zoning permit.

On June 4, 2019, the CDR Committee voted to complete the Civic Design Review process and offered the following comments.

    1. Registered Community Organizations (RCO) comments – East Falls Community Council
      • The RCO representative commended the development team on the ample parking provided within the development and the proposed access through the adjacent site and out to a signalized intersection on Henry Avenue. They stressed that traffic calming is needed on Scotts Lane.
    1. CDR Committee comments and concerns —
      • The CDR committee and PCPC staff commended the project’s thoughtful arrangement of buildings around a shared open space, variety of unit types, unique architectural design, and presence on Scotts Lane.
      • The CDR committee and PCPC staff recommended that marked pedestrian access be provided along the proposed parking areas, through the adjacent site, and out to Henry Avenue.
      • The CDR committee and PCPC staff recommended that air pollution from the adjacent expressway be mitigated with:

– A more substantial tree planting strategy

– Location of air intakes for individual units away from the expressway

– Utilization of HEPA filters with a MERV rating of 13 to 16

– The CDR Committee also recommended a more substantial tree planting strategy and landscaped berm to buffer the project from the SEPTA rail line.

    • Lastly, the CDR Committee accepted PCPC staff comments which included:
      • Concern that the at-grade railroad crossing poses dangers to pedestrians (particularly children) walking to McDevitt Recreation Center.  Staff strongly recommends that the applicant work with SEPTA and the Streets Department to create a safe, ADA-accessible transition from the proposed sidewalk, through the crossing, and into McDevitt Recreation Center.
      • Concern with vehicle conflicts caused by the two covered parking spaces closest to Scotts Lane and the project’s shared driveway.  Staff recommends the parking spaces be removed.

In conclusion, the Civic Design Review process has been completed for this project.

— Eleanor Sharpe, Executive Director of CDR


Next steps? Looks like there are no outstanding variances or refusals so if the project has funding, they can start building as soon as they pull their permits. Keep your eyes peeled for the signs of construction and get ready to welcome a slew of new neighbors soon. Homeowners, too (not renters), with price points roughly in the high $200k’s/low $300k’s with the townhomes in the $500k range.

Get a closer look at these renderings at East Falls Forward‘s free monthly Happy Hour, every 3rd Thursday 6:30 – 8:00 (3721 Midvale Avenue). NEXT MEETING: June 20

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