A process in its fourth year of shaping the development plans for the Central District’s Swedish Cherry Hill campus appears to have finally reached a conclusion. Monday afternoon, the full City Council is expected to approve the application for a new master plan and rezoning for the hospital and medical facilities at 500 17th Ave.
The approvals passed out of the Council’s planning committee two weeks ago in a “quasi-judicial” process following years of meetings and appeals against decisions in favor of the plan from Swedish and developer Sabey Corporation as neighborhood groups raised concerns about the size and scope of the planned expansion.
A 24-person citizens advisory committee was formed in late 2012, and, in the spring of 2015, announced their official disapproval of the MIMP with correcting recommendations. The MIMP was then tentatively approved by the city (after five days of hearings over the summer), after which seven separate appeals were filed by the likes of the Squire Park Community Council, the Cherry Hill Community Council and several CAC members. Issues driving the appellants include the proposed height increases, the impacts on neighborhood parking, and the expansion’s consistency with the city’s comprehensive growth plan. Finally this spring. Alternative 12 received the blessing of the City council committee.
Amendments to attempt to address lingering concerns and, according to Council member Lisa Herbold’s staff, “intended to a. make the mass of institutional structures more compatible with the neighborhood and b. create a more gradual transition from more intensive zones to less intensive zones” were approved by the committee:
(1) Western block Amendment: reduces the maximum allowable MIO height to 125’, resulting in approximately 98.400 s.f. reduction or about 6%.
(2) Eastern Block Height Amendment: Conditions a portion of this half-block down to zero feet.
If approved by the full Council, Monday’s votes will pave the way for Swedish to add an additional 1.5 million square feet to the 1.3 acre Cherry Hill Campus.