What’s going on with 4224 Baltimore project?

Posted on 25 October 2016


The lot at 4224 Baltimore Ave.

After years of planning and community meeting after community meeting, people are starting to wonder if the grand residential building proposed for the corner of 43rd and Baltimore will ever get built.


Residents look over plans during a community meeting on 4224 Baltimore Ave. in September 2014 (Photo by West Philly Local).

“I’ve given up going to the Farmers’ Market on Saturdays because I’m tired of people asking me what the problem is,” Barry Grossbach, the chair of Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee said at a recent meeting.

In case you had forgotten, construction on a 132-unit residential building at 4224 Baltimore Ave. complete with a full-service restaurant overlooking Clark Park was supposed to begin this summer. Delays on construction projects in the city are not that uncommon, so observers of the process waited. Soil samples were taken, more engineering studies were ordered, construction plans were submitted and re-submitted. But nothing has happened at the large, empty lot at 43rd and Baltimore. 

This followed months of large community meetings hosted by U3 Ventures, a real estate consulting firm run by two neighborhood residents. One of those residents, Tom Lussenhop, was at that recent Spruce Hill zoning meeting for an unrelated project when Grossbach demanded answers.

“We are limited partners,” Lussenhop said. “We do not have neither the responsibility nor the rights to move the project forward.”

The proposed apartment complex at 43rd and Baltimore.

The proposed apartment complex at 43rd and Baltimore.

A New York firm, Clarkmore LLC, owns the property. The firm could have built an apartment building by right, skirting the community process, but instead hired U3 to put together a much more ambitious plan that would require community support.

U3’s job was to get the community on board for the project, which required zoning variances because of its size. Dozens of residents attended community meetings on Penn’s campus where craft beer was served and they reviewed and commented on the building’s design.

The openness of the process drew praise from zoning officials and Philadelphia Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron.

Lussenhop said that he was unsure when the project would begin or what was holding it up.

“Our goal is to see it move to construction, but we can’t control that.”

Grossbach pressed, but could not get any assurances.

“We bought this because you guys came to us in an open way,” he said. “We want some deadlines.”

15 Comments For This Post

  1. Kent54th Says:

    You are looking at my future Condo in that photo. Here’s hoping. What a better way than to start my day than with a cup of coffee looking out onto Clark Park and say to myself, these are my people. These are the young business leaders. The new generation. The millennials. It is a feeling I used to get when I lived in NYC’s *CP East*. Fast paced. I worked hard and took chances and risks in the market and now I want to be able to look down and say, My people can have this all too, one day.

  2. ulysses3633 Says:

    nearly same situation at UC High 14 acre parcel over in Powelton….one year of no construction activity – Yea Wexford!

  3. goldenmonkey Says:

    Thank you for keeping us in the loop.

    Frankly, something sounds a little sketchy about all of this, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for a positive outcome.

  4. Abby Says:

    Meanwhile can U3 at least get the owners to clean up all the trash surrounding the lot?

  5. streetcar Says:

    just think of all the years that the community garden that was once there could have still been gardened.

  6. Gentrifying Says:

    There is plenty of garden space in West Philly. People need somewhere to live. Condos mean more people get to enjoy West Philly in less space.

    I can’t wait. The neighborhood and city could use the increased tax base. Schools, streets, plowing… Think of all the needs that can be met with an increased tax base.

  7. Kent54th Says:

    I have to agree with Gentrifying. Sure, I was young. I was free thinking and believed that this whole world could be a garden and we would never go hungry and nobody would fight wars in this garden of earth. I grew up in the 60’s. But honestly as I get older, I see that one huge garden is not the answer. People need to live and to have a place to call home. A place they worked for. I own a house that was built over a century ago and don’t get me wrong, it is immaculate, however, I am ready to retire and I am hoping that when I decide to take the gold watch and the handshake from the board, this modern living condo building is ready to close on. I know many others who have a *little* savings and want to invest in something nice. This will generate so much tax revenue and I have a feeling that local businesses are not opposed to a little money walking around the neighborhood. It may bring high end business. This place in ten years could look like the North Side of Chicago. Believe me.

  8. Mary McGettigan Says:

    According to SHCA zoning chair, Barry Grossbach, the mixed-use project planned for 4224 Baltimore Avenue is officially dead. The future of the property is uncertain.

  9. streetcar Says:

    Damn! boys and girls all I was and continue to say that its a shame that for the past 10? years the lot on this corner that was a community garden, couldn’t have continued to be used in that way until something was built here. One garden is not going end war, nor save the City gov’t, but it might grow some carrots.
    BTW, anyone who ends their comment with “believe me” in this season should be very careful, you might end up with Mr. Orange in the Gold House.

  10. David B Says:

    After all of the time and effort many of us put into the community meetings, the discussions, and even the 7+ hour marathon ZBA Meeting that went into the night, it’s sad and frustrating that this project seems to be dying for no good reason. Worst of all, I think this situation discourages companies like U3 from engaging with the community in the future, which hurts all of us.

    I hope Clarkmore steps up do what it agreed to do here.

  11. goldenmonkey Says:

    So instead of a very large community garden, which could have maintained up until the point the construction officially began, several houses that would have been paying property tax for the last ten years, and hours of dedicated community output, we get nothing.

    I do not facebook, so if someone could post some details, it would be appreciated.

    I was all for this project, but I have to laugh at the “I can’t wait to retire here” & “fingers crossed we turn into another city” comments.

  12. James Says:

    Last I heard a few months, one of the dissidents is waiting with her lawyer to pounce once construction starts. I hope the project gets built and I wonder why they are waiting a long time to go shovel ready.

  13. no more buildings Says:

    I hope they dont build anything there. The traffic on baltimore ave is already intolerable, and we dont need any more people moving into the neighborhood and making it worse.

    One of the best things about West Philly is the fact that we’re not all neat, pretty, and overdeveloped. Lets keep it that way.

  14. watchcat Says:

    We could use one or two less gas stations too. Cough.

  15. Kent54th Says:

    Let’s see, fine dining restaurant, upscale vintage shop, boutique, indie book store, progressive Yoga studio, ** smelly petrol station**. Which one of these is not like the others? Hint hint.

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