Residents of Francisville - a historic but worn and part-empty slice of brick-rowhouse lower North Philly, from Fairmount Ave. up to Girard, from Broad St. west to Corinthian - will get to view two competing visions tonight for a city-owned 1.5-acre triangle near the heart of the community, between N. 19th, Wylie and Cameron Streets.
In a meeting at Second Pilgrim Baptist Church, 15th and Ogden Sts., starting at 6 pm tonight, residents will see dueling presentations:
- Hankin Group, of suburban Exton, a proponent of the "New Urbanist" design school, which stresses "walkable" neighborhoods, will propose "up to 60 condos and up to 26 townhouses" for the site in partnership with Philadelphia-based Sam Sherman and Dale Corp., said Jim Fuller, vice president of planning and design at Hankin.
- Onion Flats LLC, of Northern Liberties, will lay out plans for 70 units, plus a community garden, on the same 1.5 acre parcel. Co-owner Tim McDonald promises "one of the most sustainable green projects in the country."
The builders responded to a request for proposals by the city Office of Housing and Community Development. "It's a huge thing for this neighborhood," said Penelope Giles, executive director of Francisville Neighborhood Development Corp., which is sponsoring tonight's meeting. "There hasn't been anything of this magnitude in 50 or 100 years."
Are residents worried poor and working people will be pushed out by new construction and higher prices? "We have quite a large amount of low-income housing already," Giles told me. "Our goal is to mix them up so we have low-income, high-end, and middle-working-class product to offer."