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New ISA Project – Fishtown Zoning Meeting TONIGHT

by Chad Ludeman on November 12, 2008 · 19 comments

in event,Press and News

This post is for locals in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia near where we are building. Our architects, Interface Studio Architects (ISA), are presenting a new proposed project to the neighborhood for another developer buddy of ours in the area. It’s really cool and we need all the local support we can get to help get their project voted through.

ISA Fishtown Houses on Tulip St

The project is called “Fishtown Houses” and will be going up at 1702-22 Tuplip St, Philadelphia, PA 19125. If you live in the area please come out to the Fishtown Rec Center at 7:30 PM to listen to the presentation and vote on the project. The official zoning announcement can also be viewed here. If you love modern architecture, it’s important that you make it out and vote because the neighborhood doesn’t always see the vision if it’s not covered in builder grade brick and vinyl windows… Be there Fishtowners!

ISA Fishtown Houses on Tulip St 2

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lavardera November 12, 2008 at 2:01 pm

What is the cladding on these – is it a cement panel?

2 chad November 12, 2008 at 2:19 pm

I would guess that it’s Arpa or similar in a wood grain finish. I am just guessing though…

3 Dan November 12, 2008 at 2:23 pm

Hopefully they will present better renderings of the project at the meeting. I couldn’t tell from the drawings on their web site whether these houses would be a positive or a negative for the area. If they don’t go to the trouble of posting large renderings of a house viewed from a normal perspective (i.e. a street view, not a bird’s view), and they don’t post any information about the project (materials used, LEED certified or not, stormwater control strategies, etc) it is hard to get excited about a project and go to a zoning meeting at the Rec Center.

4 chad November 12, 2008 at 2:35 pm

Dan – Valid points. These renderings are a bit out of date and they are working on getting me new ones. I’m pretty sure the houses in the back were taken out and it is only homes facing the street now.

Hopefully someone more intimate with the project will post a comment and I can update the post with the details you are seeking. Thanks.

5 chad November 12, 2008 at 3:12 pm

New renderings posted that represent the new plans that will be presented tonight. Notice how much happier the Fishtown people are walking around the project. This must be a direct result of the architecture.

6 daryn November 12, 2008 at 5:41 pm

This project is located on a property with a vacant structure and a trash-strewn parking lot and will be re-developed with 11 new, modern residences with 11 car parking. The cladding is fiber cement board panels with an accent panel that is currently under discussion but may be something similar to the Arpa // Trespa cladding products or cedar wood siding. As the project progresses, we will be pursuing Energy Star accreditation.

7 lavardera November 12, 2008 at 6:22 pm

You’re right – they look excited and I think they are walking to the Rec Center to support the project.

8 chad November 12, 2008 at 7:00 pm

I think you’re right Greg. I think you are.

9 Kevin D November 13, 2008 at 1:47 pm

I think that projects like the 100k house represent the new future of home development. Here’s one of hundreds of articles out there on the topic:
And Toll Brothers’ old business plan is now officially a bad business plan:

My question is about the land acquisition in Philly. What is PostGreen’s strategy? If the city truly owns over 20,000 vacant lots, why don’t they choose a neighborhood and give 20 of them away to enthusiastic redevelopers like you and see what happens?

10 lavardera November 13, 2008 at 2:36 pm

A small land give away would certainly create a nice buffer in the margin, and would not be an unreasonable way for the city to jump start redevelopment in some of these neighborhoods.

11 Kevin D November 13, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Another aspect of this that REALLY intrigues me is that a new 100k house on cheap enough land could even rent for enough to make a monthly profit. Then who needs those pesky homebuyers who want granite countertops?

12 chad November 13, 2008 at 3:06 pm

We have our first meeting with the city on the 18th regarding us purchasing a vacant parcel that they own in our neighborhood. It should be a good barometer for our ability to obtain land from the city.

Rumor has it that the Nutter administration is working on ways to get this vast resource of land into private developers’ hands while increasing the amount of new homes available for purchase between $200K and $300K. Sounds like a good fit to someone’s business model…

13 lavardera November 13, 2008 at 3:33 pm

I hope the mayor comes out to the opening/dedication of the 100k House.

BTW, how did the meeting go last night? Did all those transparent people show up to support the project?

14 chad November 13, 2008 at 3:42 pm

The community was not in favor of the project according to the voting results. I believe the developer plans to move forward with their scheduled ZBA hearing despite the negative vote.

The union was out in strong force even if they didn’t live in the neighborhood. They made it mainly a labor issue which has nothing to do with the zoning issues being presented. Ahh Philly…

15 Roman November 14, 2008 at 4:13 pm

Couple thoughts on this project. First, I can’t believe that parking got brought up as an issue yet again. I took a stroll on the block of Tulip where the development was proposed and there were easily 30 open parking spaces. The street was completely empty. This is on top of the dedicated parking spoty that comes with each unit.

Second, it’ll be interesting to see how ZBA rules on this. It’s my impression that it has become less reliant on neighborhood opinion during the Nutter administration (for better or worse). Chad, do you know what the final tally was?

Last, the yuppy vs. union paradigm is just so tired. Granted, the developer could’ve done more to engender good will during the Memphis Flats construction, but with all the problems facing this city, you’d think that we could move on beyond the whole longtimers vs noobie nonsense. Rant over.

16 Jeremy November 14, 2008 at 7:43 pm

In response to…..

“If you love modern architecture, it’s important that you make it out and vote because the

neighborhood doesn’t always see the vision if it’s not covered in builder grade brick and vinyl

windows… Be there Fishtowners!”

Im lost to the hype here. These are nice looking, well designed, and and Im sure beautifully

functioning houses, but, in a nutshell, can someone please remind me what the “vision” is that the

“neighborhood” is supposed to be seeing? Looks and sounds like a class struggle to me. Why are you

surprised that its getting a negative reaction from working class folks. This is foreign information.

The city has always been in flux and is never fixed, so Im all about rethinking contextualism, but when

you set up the dialogue to be modern architecture vs. builder-grade, youre going to get pushed back at

by the builders, and rightfully so. Thats some seriously classist talk, and you want Fishtowners to

support you?

With so much creative potential, Im wondering if there is another way. Can we actually remake our

‘hoods in a way that neither allows blight to continue, nor creates a culture so entitled to its need

for resources and entertainment (“love” for modern architecture) that it fails to see its own negative

effects on the very places it wishes to transform? Making good houses cheap is righteous, but

practicing a willful blindness to the results of your actions is as ugly as the blight you wish to


Nice cement board siding though. I really hope this gets built. But don’t you have a bigger vision

than just how great your work is and how we ought to come out and support it? I think so, but when I

read through this blog (and many others like it) Im disapointed at how self-congratulatory and

self-righteous the dwell-culture has become. What are you guys about anyway? You talk about the

triple bottom line, so how is this about people again? How is it about anyone beyond those happy

hipsters in the renderings? If the neighbors dont want it, then why do you want to do it? Maybe if

their kids could afford them it would be a different story.

17 lavardera November 14, 2008 at 8:45 pm

The whole idea of “zoning approval” is going to split people down two sides. I don’t think its fair to point a finger at either side when the condition is inherent in the process. Chads commentary on this was offered with humor and I think that was pretty evident in the comments as well.

Anyway, every redevelopment project faces resistance. The neighborhood is seeing change. The Hipsters as you put it are bringing investment to the area, and in the process transforming it into their vision of a livable neighborhood. If the existing property owners have a different vision then they have to initiate projects that demonstrate the same. Honestly I don’t think they have that vision defined, and if they do then I suspect its not compelling to attract investment. Thats not fair or unfair – its just economics.

I find it hard to feel compassion for the stance that resists this development though. This is not a proposal to move toxic industry into the neighborhood, or to destroy farms or natural lands to build more houses. I think at most it boils down to a difference in aesthetics, and that is a difficult leg to stand on in opposition in a culture that values diversity.

18 Kevin D November 14, 2008 at 10:03 pm

In Denver, City Council’s raison d’etre is zoning.

Here’s a quote from an actual Denver city councilperson when I asked her why there was no sturm and drang over townhouse redevelopment in her district:
“I think the acceptance has come over time. Initially (there was pushback for various reasons). I remember a big dispute over a huge, old elm, but I wasn’t in office then. The acceptance came as the old timers moved out and property values rose.”

She could also have said “as the old timers died”.

Zoning policy should be framed for our grandchildren, not us.

19 Anne Weisman March 27, 2009 at 11:00 am

Have you guys considered advertising or promoting your ideas to burned out Coatesville? Their may be a market for you their. I bet they were of the 3 bedroom row house model, but their may be demand for what your company offers, and the nice pricetag. Ever look at doing “double wides?”

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