On Wednesday September 16, ULI Philadelphia virtually hosted its 4th Annual Shark Tank, organized by the Young Leaders Group. Tony Ewing from Shift Capital served as the event’s MC for two developer ‘fish’ who presented their residential projects in differing Philadelphia neighborhoods to a panel of ‘sharks’, which included Miguel Batista – M&T Bank, Karen Blanchard – SITIO urbanism + architecture, Anne Fadullon – City of Philadelphia’s Department of Planning and Development, and Jacqueline Kruger – Post Brothers.
Rahat Kamal, Justin John and Ani Sanyal of Tioga Park Development Group presented an urban infill project in the Tioga neighborhood of North Philadelphia. The development group hopes the market-rate project will take advantage of its proximity to Temple University Hospital, excellent access to public transportation, and renewed interest from the public and private sectors. With the Beury Building currently being renovated at Broad at Germantown, and Amtrak North Philadelphia station being redeveloped into a work/live/play space, Tioga Park Development Group believes the project will add to the synergy already taking place in the neighborhood.
The ‘sharks’ praised the project for its contextual design that references traditional North Philadelphia architecture, but cautioned the development group for what they felt were overly optimistic construction cost assumptions. Given the project’s projected rents, Anne Fadullon was skeptical that such a development proposal was made with the intention of existing community members being tenants. The development group responded to those concerns clarifying that the project was meant to provide housing for Temple Hospital employees.
Ryan Spak of The Spak Group presented a residential project called ‘Wade Flats’; an infill development in the Cobbs Creek neighborhood of West Philadelphia. The project will take advantage of the inclusionary housing zoning bonus and feature both subsidized and market-rate units and green stormwater infrastructure. The sharks appreciated The Spak Group’s design, namely its playful façade, but expressed concerns about overly optimistic financial returns, particularly in the age of COVID, and asked if he ran any ‘downturn’ scenarios. Spak responded saying he did not run any downturn scenarios, but is confident in the project’s financial returns, especially given his portfolio has remained consistent throughout the pandemic.
During the audience Q&A, both groups were asked how they planned to mitigate gentrification, which is a pressing concern for both projects’ respective communities. Tioga Park Development Group said while their project is market-rate, they plan to mitigate displacement mainly through community outreach, working with RCOs to make sure their goals are aligned with that of the community, and through providing community spaces to local residences. The Spak Group is also recognizes gentrification concerns, which is why the group actively incorporates subsidized units in their projects, procures from local minority-owned businesses, and seeks feedback from community members on projects.
The audience voted on which project they would want to invest in, with The Spak Group’s ‘Wade Flats’ as the preferred project. Congratulations to both teams for great presentations!
ULI would like to thank its event sponsors, whose support made this program possible: Gattuso Development Partners, M&T Bank, Stewart Title and R.H. Reinhardt Company. Thank you to our brave fish for their presentations and our impressive lineup of sharks for their input and feedback. Special thanks to Young Leaders Michael Haviland, Earp Cohn and Michael Kimmey, LRK for their work putting this event together.
This article was contributed by Stewart Scott, intern with ULI Philadelphia and current student at University of Pennsylvania’s Master of City & Regional Planning program.