Lincoln Square-ing up at Broad and Washington

All rental units, most of the one-bedroom apartments will rent for $1,500 to $2,000 and feature Center City and University City views.

– Rendering by BLT Architects

While some South Philadelphians may be talking about what Bart Blatstein has planned for the northeast corner of Broad Street and Washington Avenue, it seems the development across the street has much more potential to see completion before 2018. MIS Capital LLC, with Alterra Property Group, has been quietly building neighborhood approval for its nine-story 356-rental unit mixed use development, a project it is calling Lincoln Square.

“We’re doing what we call sensible density. Our building is approximately the same height as the Marine Club across the street,” MIS Capital’s Steve Gendler said. “The neighbors see it getting a little more refined with each meeting, and we view them as partners in this project. That’s how Alterra and MIS work, we view the neighborhood as stakeholders. We view them as advocates and welcome all ideas.”

There’s almost no doubt that a grocery store will get worked into the ground floor retail, a request heard loud and clear, in part, because of the South of South Neighborhood Association’s (SOSNA) economic development surveying of near residents.

“Access to a grocery has been a top priority, you hear that everywhere,” SOSNA chair Lauren Vidas said. “We don’t want banks and office buildings where nothing’s happening at the street level after 5 p.m.”

It’s a unique property. In addition to the 3.5-acre City-owned property, the lot is home to a historic train shed built around 1875, just a decade after John Wilkes Booth assassinated the 16th President of the United States. In fact, that’s where the Lincoln Square title comes from – after President Lincoln was shot and killed, his body passed through the train station at Broad and Washington, and 30,000 Philadelphians, dressed in black, paraded to Independence Hall behind his casket.

“Lincoln being part of the unifying of the country in the north and the south, that’s sort of a good analogy for creating a bridge between South Philadelphia and Center City,” Gendler explained. “It’s a bridge of cultures and a bridge of commerce.”

“We feel the future of the Avenue is commercial mixed use,” Vidas said. “If we’re looking at doing some density, this is the place to do it. The developers have met and reached out very early on to talk to the Registered Community Organization about the things we’re going to be comfortable with and what are the deal-breakers. This is something that they did very early on as they were shaping the project to fit within the comfort level of the neighborhood.”

They’re offering more-than-required parking: one stall for every two units and 200 stalls for retail folks (plus a bike room, which Gendler said “we’re excited about that – we’re all about that”).

The freight station stays, and as MIS and Alterra begin taking over the lot, an Asian food distributor that currently operates out of the structure will be forced to relocate.

“We’re going to lease it, we’re actively talking to many folks,” Gendler said of what is likely some sort of food and beverage enterprise.

They’ll incorporate the shed into something they’ll call Lincoln Walk, “which would be semi-covered because of the eaves of the station, a walking passageway from Broad Street to Carpenter Street. [But] we think we’re going to end up with a little more open space than that,” he added.

An anticipated early ’17 groundbreaking is on the timeline, with an 18-20-month construction period.

Contact Staff Writer Bill Chenevert at or ext. 117..