When it was announced that the Freeman's Auction House at 1810 Chestnut Street was sold and being redeveloped, CCRA reached out to the Developer (Astoban Investments) and its architect (Cecil Baker and Partners) to discuss the project. While the redevelopment is as a matter-of-right and does not require any zoning variances, it will have to be approved by the Philadelphia Historic Commission. The Developer and its architectural team were happy to meet with a Task Force appointed by the CCRA President to review the proposal and provide neighborhood input. The Preservation Alliance was invited to join the Task Force in this effort.
At the first meeting, the Task Force conveyed neighborhood concerns about preserving the historic façade and feeling of the property; not overwhelming the vicinity with a massive building; using materials which were harmonious with the architecture of the Rittenhouse Square area; and minimizing adverse traffic impacts. The Task Force was told that all of those concerns would be incorporated in the resulting design.
At the second meeting, the Task Force was shown the proposed project in substantial detail. We were pleased that the concerns we had raised were addressed appropriately and the resulting building is tasteful, in harmony with its surroundings and minimizes adverse effects on its immediate neighbors and the surrounding streets. This design was proposed in part because of the Developer's desire to be a good neighbor and because CCRA has developed a history of working in tandem with developers of major projects for the good of the neighborhood.
The Developer's submission to the Philadelphia Historic Commission's website or can be downloaded from here. Those wishing to attend the Architectural Committee or the PHC Commission meetings electronically can find instructions on the website. The CCRA Board will consider endorsing the project at its June 9th meeting. Please let us know if you have any comments before then.