PHILADELPHIA Development in the fast-changing area around Logan Square will pick up momentum after Wednesday's final zoning approval of a $140 million project featuring a new Whole Foods market and 293 high-end apartments.
Rodin Square, named after developer Neal Rodin, is coincidentally located a block north of the Rodin Museum. It will replace the current Best Western hotel.
The project will take up almost all of the block between 21st and 22d Streets to the east and west, Spring Garden Street to the north, and Pennsylvania Avenue and Hamilton Street to the south.
Rodin, chairman of International Financial Co. L.L.C., said he expected to break ground in January or February. Construction could take two years, he added.
Whole Foods would move its existing market at 20th and Callowhill Streets to the new site. The store will be almost twice the size, with 55,000 square feet of retail space and a 5,000-square-foot cafe.
The three-acre Rodin Square is just the latest high-profile project for the cultural district along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Recent construction includes the new home of the Barnes Foundation and the Sister Cities Park on the Parkway, and the Granary apartments on Callowhill Street.
Meanwhile, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has begun work on a temple at 17th and Vine Streets. Across the street, the city is seeking a developer to convert the Family Court building into a luxury hotel.
Community groups in Logan Square and Spring Garden had raised concerns about the impact of Rodin Square on traffic. But they signed off on the project after Council President Darrell L. Clarke convened a meeting Sept. 30 of city officials to discuss congestion.
Ed Panek, chairman of the zoning committee for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, said traffic around the Wawa market at 21st and Hamilton Streets was "horrendous."
He told the zoning board that the meeting called by Clarke was "a very good start" for addressing long-simmering complaints. It included representatives from the Council president's staff, city planners, police, SEPTA, and the city Streets Department.
Neighborhood groups signed a development agreement Tuesday with Rodin.
He said the development would include a two-lane driveway, stretching from 21st to 22d Streets, that would be used by delivery trucks and customers.
"This takes everything off the streets," Rodin said.
He said that in addition to Whole Foods, the project would include retail space fronting Spring Garden Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Designed by MV+A Architects of Bethesda, Md., Rodin Square will have nine stories of apartments, a five-story parking structure for residents, and belowground parking for customers of Whole Foods.
In a terrace above Whole Foods, the complex will have open space and residential amenities, including an outdoor pool.
James Voelzke, a partner of MV+A, said the design was meant to be "respectful of what's on either side of us."
The structures are set back from surrounding streets.
The retailing will energize Pennsylvania Avenue with street-level activity, Voelzke said. "There is currently no reason for tourists to venture north."