The developer behind a potential redevelopment of the historic Germantown Town Hall building unveiled his plans for a mixture of housing and commercial space.
The developer behind a potential redevelopment of the historic Germantown Town Hall building in the heart of that neighborhoood’s central business district told residents in a public Zoom meeting on Monday night that if he gets the project, he would have to build a tower behind that building, on the lot now used for 14th precinct police parking, and that about half of those 39-units would be affordable and low-income housing while the other half would be a mix of short-term AirBNB rentals and market rate housing. The first floor would include commercial space.
During the meeting, developer Anthony Fullard, of West Powelton Development, noted that plans are not yet final, rather they are a first draft he is using to gauge public interest and support.
Fullard has a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, which is managing any potential transactions for the building, that gives him access to the city-owned site so that he can develop a formal development proposal.
Fullard said he seeks to “include a lot of input from the community” in his plans for the development.
Germantown Town Hall, along with Germantown High School and the Germantown YWCA, is one of three very large and significant properties in the neighborhood’s central business district that residents say have the potential to revitalize their community if they are developed well. Germantown, a historically low-income community that was of little interest to investors, has in recent years been a target of interest by developers from inside the city and beyond.
According to Daryn Edwards, Fullard’s architect for the project, current plans include a two-story event space in the iconic dome of Town Hall, complete with commercial space on the ground floor. The second story, Edwards said, would hold the AirBNB rentals, and the third story would contain one-bedroom apartments for traditional long-term lease.
The new three story building behind the historic one would consist entirely of one-bedroom apartments.
Fullard said he wanted to make the building a tourist attraction.
“There's a lot of history obviously in this area and the hope is that people would like to stay here instead of staying downtown,” added Edwards during his presentation.
The plans Edwards presented also contained two greenspaces on the roof – one for the event space and another for residents.
And the building’s basement, Fullard said, has potential to hold space for community meetings.
“We're looking to have this as a mixed use structure, is what our vision is,” he added.
The meeting was held by City Councilmember Cindy Bass, who is responsible for all community engagement on the project. The PIDC handles only the administrative elements of the transaction, including the MOU. The next step of the process is for Fullard to submit a formal proposal, said city spokesman Kevin Lessard, but there is no deadline attached to that.
“It is unlikely that there will be any updates until later this spring at the earliest,” Lessard said.
Many questions still remain about how the project will be funded.
“The funding structure has not been ascertained by this point,” said Fullard, who noted that his company would attempt to procure both public and private funds. He said the project would cost approximately $10 to $12 million.
During the meeting, Bass said that the final decision for picking a developer for the project comes down to PIDC. Currently, however, the PIDC does not have MOUs with any other developer.