Philadelphia developer Michael Samschick is developing a master plan for the properties he owns along Delaware Avenue.
Among Samschick's holdings: The 1000 and 1100 blocks of North Delaware Avenue, which includes the Edward Corner building and the 1080 building, and Waterview Grande, the residentially converted former storage building at Front and Brown streets.
"At this point, it's a work in progress," Samschick said of his plan in a brief phone interview. "Things are evolving (so) I'm not ready to share anything at this point.”
Samschick showed his ideas to some members of Fishtown Neighbors Association's zoning committee at a Tuesday night meeting – on the condition that they not share what they learned with the media. At the beginning of the meeting, Samschick gave them a choice, said FNA Zoning Chair Matt Karp: See a tiny portion of the plans, and feel free to share, or see everything he has so far, on the condition of not talking to reporters. “We are not allowed to speak about what we saw,” Karp said.
Karp did say that Samschick's master plan would be discussed at a future meeting, probably a joint meeting of FNA and Northern Liberties Neighbors Association. “He's going to complete it, hopefully soon,” Karp said.
Karp said the Central Delaware Advocacy Group – a group comprised of representatives of riverfront civic and non-profit groups which advocates for the Central Delaware Master Plan – would also be brought in to the discussion. Karp is a CDAG board member, and NLNA President Matt Ruben is CDAG's chairman.
The recently completed Waterview Grande has a sign in front of it for Penn Treaty Village. Earlier this year, Naked Philly offered a preview of the residences at Waterview Grande, and reported the building was the first phase of Penn Treaty Village. “By the time all is said and done, Core Realty intends to redevelop as many as ten city blocks, with residential and commercial uses, effectively linking Northern Liberties and Fishtown,” Naked Philly wrote.
In August 2011, The Philadelphia Business Journal reported that Penn Treaty Village would cover six contiguous blocks across from SugarHouse Casino and “calls for a whopping 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use development that includes retail, entertainment, luxury loft apartments and a hotel along North Delaware Avenue.” The Journal said Fameco Real Estate was talking about project at the International Council of Shopping Centers conference.
Then last month, a flier surfaced offering potential investors an opportunity to partake in O Havana, a 300-room luxury hotel with restaurants, a spa and a nightclub “in front of the SugarHouse Casino”, boasting retro Cuban flair that “has support from the City of Philadelphia, Delaware River Authority (sic) and the community.”
Trouble was, city planners, the FNA and NLNA, the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, and the Central Delaware Advocacy Group had not heard of the project.
O Havana Principal Orlando Ballate could not be reached for this article, but last month, he told PlanPhilly by email that Core Realty was his local partner.
The O Havana flier went out "without my consent or any type of prior approval," Samschick said Wednesday.
In last month's brief email interview, Ballate said that Core had achieved city and neighborhood support for the project.
The flier and a related website had several other discrepancies. Most of the contact information that was on the website – some of which seems to have since been removed – did not work. It named agencies that don't exist. The website and Ballate named other projects in development around the world. Google turns up no evidence for them, using the locations and the name O Havana in the search. It was all unusual enough that city planners and neighborhood leaders wondered if the investment flier was a scam.
After learning about the hotel flier, the city reached out to O Havana. “Commerce has been in touch with them, but I'm told the O Havana group is not yet ready to discuss the planning/physical design aspects of their proposal,” Philadelphia City Planning Commission Executive Director Gary Jastrzab said Wednesday in an email.
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