Collaborative Firm Volunteer for Mixed-Use Building

Earlier this summer the Community Design Collaborative featured our work as a firm volunteer for Community Ventures (CV) and the Village of Arts and Humanities (VAH) Design Grant recipients for the renovation of the Treacy Building, located at the intersection of Germantown and Lehigh Avenues.

As the firm volunteer, CICADA provided pro bono preliminary design services to CV and VAH for the revitalization of street level commercial storefronts and develop affordable housing units on the upper floors. The project started in the summer of 2016 with the staff meeting with both non-profit organizations, understanding their respective missions and goals for the early twentieth century building known as the Treacy Building. For most people it is popularly known for the iconic 1950’s sign, Sun Ray turned Sun Pay. The team surveyed, met with business owners, and developed plans to improve storefronts along the commercial corridor and optimize as many residential units as possible on the site. CICADA worked with a team of other pro bono professionals, including a historical preservationist, structural engineer, and cost estimator.

By March 2017, Community Ventures and the Village of Arts and Humanities were presented with two options to meet their needs to improve the commercial corridor and to improve the housing options in North Central Philadelphia. The first, to renovate the original building and explore the potential opportunities for historic tax credits. While the second option, what we like to call a facadectomy, is to demolish all of the existing structure, keep the original Treacy Building façade intact, and build new construction to better fit the program requirements. The result: four storefront improvements for neighborhood businesses both short- and long-term, and the potential for 12 to 20 affordable, rental units.

We are hoping that our services greatly increase the chance of this project coming to fruition for both organizations, and serving the North Central Philadelphia neighborhood. For now, check out the featured Live/Work/Shop: Conceptual Design for Mixed-Used Building project on the Community Design Collaborative website.

All historical photographs from the City of Philadelphia, Free Library, and Temple online archives.