Green Building: A Fine Vintage

story by Lee StabertDeveloper Anthony B. Miles grew up in the city’s Francisville neighborhood. “As a little child, I saw how vibrant the commercial corridor was,” he recalls. “There was a farmers’ market and local mom-and-pop businesses, and it was really safe.” Miles hopes to reinvigorate the community with the Vineyards, an ambitious LEED Platinum development featuring 60 residential units. The project will be accompanied by an adjacent Reading Terminal-style marketplace—boasting fresh food vendors—integrated with residential rental units.
Francisville (bound by Fairmount Avenue to the south, Girard Avenue to the north, Broad Street to the east and Corinthian Avenue to the west) has experienced some lean years, struggling economically and suffering from blight, but, with the development in nearby Fairmount, opportunity has arrived. Miles is the president of RAPOA (Ridge Avenue Property Owners Association), a group of 16 landowners behind this massive undertaking.
The property is the former site of William Penn’s vineyard, hence the name. Units at the development will boast many green features, including automated lighting and energy control, sustainably-produced building materials and full-access green roofs. The project should be completed in the next 36 months, and the first unit will be ready in March 2011. Miles plans to move back to the neighborhood and live in the completed Vineyards. “To be blessed with the opportunity to resurrect the area is something I don’t think I will ever understand the magnitude of,” he says.
The project has the neighborhood’s full support—and they pushed hard for green development in particular. “It’s monumental for an African-American young man, who was born in this neighborhood, to come back and build a project of this caliber,” says Penelope Giles, Executive Director of the Francisville Neighborhood Development Corporation. “And to achieve LEED Platinum certification? It’s a big thing.”