The University City District has released new renderings the 40th Street Trolley Portal project that now include Trolley Car Station, a two-story restaurant that will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The renderings were first presented to Spruce Hill community members at a meeting Tuesday night in advance of a zoning board appeal meeting on March 30, according to West Philly Local.
"I’ve attended a lot of public meetings, and there are very few—especially in Philly—where someone presents a proposal to build something and the strong majority ask, 'How quickly can you get this done?'" Andrew Stober, UCD's vice president of planning and economic development, tells Curbed Philly.
The 40th Street Trolley Portal is UCD's biggest project to date and aims to transform a concrete-heavy trolley station at 40th Street and Baltimore Avenue into a more welcoming public space. Developer Ken Weinstein, who is behind Mt. Airy's Trolley Car Diner and East Falls' Trolley Car Cafe, announced in January that Trolley Car Station would join the portal.
"What we’re hearing from most people is that the Trolley Car model is a really good fit here because of the three meals a day, the family environment, and wonderful reputation," explains Nate Hommel, UCD's director of planning and design.
Trolley Car Station will seat 150 people. In addition to meals, it will serve ice cream, as well as pick-your-own six-packs of beer. It will feature a green roof that will handle stormwater management, though it won't be accessible to the public.
Overall, the structure is designed to blend in with the environment, says Hommel. "The goal is to soften the space. The building just tucks into this pocket, and we think the vegetation on the facade and roof—and generous landscaping that surrounds the plaza and building—will connect this with the interesting fabric here," he says.
We want this to feel like this is a generous public space in front of a restaurant—not that the whole thing is part of the restaurant.
UCD has already raised $2.1 million for the 40th St. Trolley Portal, and the restaurant will be privately funded. The next planning hurdle is a zoning variance for mixed-use on March 30.
If the zoning variance is approved, Hommel says they will seek out contractor bids this summer and begin construction in the fall. The project should take approximately 13 months and open in September 2017.
Says Stober, "What we’re really transforming is what right now is a transit asset, into a community asset."