Lower South Focus Areas
The Lower South District Plan has three focus areas: Former Naval Hospital Site, Sports Complex, and the Navy Yard.
Focus Areas are priority locations that have the potential to stimulate positive change for the larger, citywide context through redevelopment. Recommendations for these areas will take more than ten years to fully implement. Reimagining these areas as more dynamic economically, aesthetically, or functionally can have a transformational effect. These long-term visions provide inspiration and a framework as smaller improvements occur incrementally.
Former Naval Hospital Site
The Naval Hospital served the needs of civilian employees, military personnel, veterans, and their families for over 50 years. When constructed, it was state-of-the-art but by the 1980s concerns about asbestos and its inefficient room layout made the facility obsolete. The hospital was imploded on June 9, 2001. The east side of the site became the Philadelphia Eagles’s practice field and NovaCare Rehabilitation center. The western side, currently a surface parking lot used for sports complex employee and overflow parking, is owned by the PIDC.
New housing options for seniors and neighborhood serving retail are proposed in this development scenario, based on recommendations from the housing and neighborhood center sections of THRIVE. This development scenario improves circulation and neighborhood connections to FDR Park by introducing the street grid, consistent with recommendations from both CONNECT and RENEW. FDR Park has served both as a major regional park and a support to the stadium. Striking balance between those two roles is key to maintaining, funding, and respecting the environmental, recreational, and historical assets of FDR Park. FDR Park is key to creating a complete neighborhood center as envisioned in THRIVE.
Philadelphia is the only city or region with all four major sports franchises to have their venues colocated in the same complex. This creates major circulation challenges especially on multiple-event days. Unlike other cities where new sports venues have been located downtown or in revitalizing areas, Philadelphia’s stadium “glamor shots” show seas of surface parking and the skyline in the distance. Parking is necessary to the success of the sports complex, but limits the economic benefits of being home to four major sports franchises.
XFinity Live!, a restaurant and shopping complex, is the first non sports-related venue to be built within the Sports Stadium zoning district. The first phase of XFinity Live! impacts parking only slightly as the Spectrum was torn down to make room for this phase. The full development will impact parking greatly as it includes approximately 350,000 square feet of shops, entertainment, restaurants, and a 300-room hotel.
This sports complex plan includes the total 350,000 square foot XFinity Live! proposal and shows how any additional development at the sports complex can be designed in an efficient manner that considers parking, transit, and vehicular circulation. This development scenario supports the sports complex as a metropolitan subcenter and neighborhood center as recommended in THRIVE.
Infrastructure recommendations include new roadways that help disperse traffic and create better connections to highways. Improvements are also proposed for the BSL and other transit routes in CONNECT.
Urban design recommendations including a street grid and a thoughtful public realm are also included in this site study as described in RENEW. The SP-STA master plan zoning district is a crucial tool for implementing the vision for the sports complex.
The Navy Yard focus area shows transformation that has occurred since the U.S. Navy closed the base as an active military facility and its continued redevelopment as a mixed-use district with 24/7 activity as discussed in THRIVE. Careful planning and concentrated investment in infrastructure is crucial to fulfill the Navy Yard’s potential as a part of Philadelphia’s metropolitan subcenter.
Construction of the BSL extension, as detailed in CONNECT, will allow the Navy Yard to become a unique urban campus by eliminating the need for large amounts of parking and encouraging greater density and diversity of uses. The extension will give the Navy Yard an advantage over suburban business parks in terms of access to labor.
Further expansion and connection of the Navy Yard’s parks and riverfront trail as recommended in THRIVE will provide amenities not found in other office or industrial parks, or even downtown commercial office districts.
The recommendations embodied in the Navy Yard focus area will create a vibrant, highly desirable campus for companies that might otherwise seek to locate outside of Philadelphia.