New Tower Could Rise on Rittenhouse Square After All

Castleway Properties is planning 350,000 square feet of condos.

A rendering of Castleway's pre-recession proposal, courtesy of Skyscraper Page

A rendering of Castleway’s pre-recession proposal, courtesy of Skyscraper Page

Irish developer Castleway Properties is again working on plans for a luxury condo tower and boutique hotel on a prominent vacant lot on Rittenhouse Square. Castleway had proposed something similar for the site in 2007, but the proposal collapsed during the recession. Then, in 2013, megadeveloper Toll Brothers showed interested in purchasing the lot, but earlier this year the sale fell through and Toll Brothers walked away.

Castleway now appears to again be moving forward on its own. According to a May Center City District report, Castleway is planning a 150-unit, 350,000-square-foot condo tower, 25,000 square feet of retail space, a 200,000-square-foot hotel, and four levels of underground parking. That sounds very similar to the pre-recession proposal, which called for a 525-foot glass tower (rendering above).

Castleway has presented its plans to the Center City Residents’ Association, which appointed a task force to review the proposal. Philadelphia fixture KlingStubbins, now a part of Jacobs, is the project’s architect. (KlingStubbins was also the architect on the proposal Castleway presented before the recession.)

The L-shaped lot is one of the most prominent and valuable vacant lots in the city—according to city data, even in its current condition it’s worth over $10 million. It’s been vacant since a fire burned down a building on the site in the early 1990s, and has played host to several different development proposals over the years. Castleway bought it in 2007 for an astronomical $36.7 million, and some have suggested that that high price has hampered Castleway’s development efforts so far.

The market for high-end condos in the area has been strong recently: 1706 Rittenhouse and 10 Rittenhouse, the square’s two new towers, have been highly successful. But Castleway’s tower would no doubt face some potentially tough competition from the thousands of new residential units currently in the pipeline.

We’ve reached out to Castleway and will update if we hear anything new about the project.

[Hat tip: Skyscraper Page forums]

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  • Jayfar

    I’m pretty sure that’s a years old news item that was accidentally recycled through several news sources. The Philadelphia Weekly Press article cited in the CCD blurb is undated online and i believe it was written several years ago.

    • kclo3

      No, the CCRA May newsletter specifically mentioned 1900 Walnut and Castleway’s potential 2nd attempt at building a tower.

      • Jayfar

        Ok, interesting. I was specifically looking for something on CCRA’s website when this story first broke a month or so ago, but came up empty. I still think the Weekly Press article cited in the CCD blurb dates back to the years-ago incarnation of Castleway’s plan, but no way to be sure, since the Weekly Press article is undated (a search brings up no other WP article).

      • Jayfar

        Turns out the article describing exactly what is cited in the CCD blurb is from 2008. I’ve been directed to a dated copy of the article here:

        Please double-check with your CCRA sources. They too may have been fooled by CCD’s erroneous report.

  • LS

    You didn’t even include the address of the lot in this story.

  • ced1378

    I bet these will be over-priced!!

  • Liz Spikol

    Hey everyone. We’re still trying to get clarity on this one. I see what you’re all saying — that the plan cited here as a second try is exactly the same as the prior plan. We’ll update shortly.

  • Liz Spikol

    Just spoke with Linda Harris at CCD. She got the information from a Center City Residents Association weekly newsletter from May 16, 2014.

  • Liz Spikol

    Confirmation! Just spoke with the Center City Residents Association’s Steve Huntingdon, who wrote the item for the May 16, 2014 (and said, “I had a heck of a time writing it”). The full text of the item, below:

    “Heard the phrase about always being a bridesmaid? Think about the winsome L shaped plot fronting on the north side of the 1900 block of Walnut Street through to Sansom then westbound to 20th Street. Since a 1994 fire shuttered the Eric Rittenhouse Theater, the parcel has circled the altar on many occasions. First there was a proposal for a parking garage and movie theater. Then an Irish developer, Castleway, pressed its troth promising not castles in the air but something more suitable for a city lass, a high rise featuring a north south access road running between Sansom and Walnut. Next was a brief affair, a fling really, with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society which created a much enjoyed pop up garden – she never looked finer. After that dalliance, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported that Toll Brothers came a courting. But now, as happens in these matters, Castleway, the former suitor, is having second thoughts and has returned with promises of a luxury residential condominium high rise and boutique hotel with ground floor retail and underground parking. CCRA has appointed a task force to investigate the proposal.”